Detective Lombardi’s letter is emotionally driven, not fact-based

Dear Editor:

Detective Vincent Lombardi’s letter published November 19, 2006 (Blood will continue to flow in the streets) is emotionally driven not fact-based, and comes at a critical time in contract negotiations between the City of Hoboken and the union that he represents. His statements are irresponsible and disingenuous at best and may have instilled in our residents an unjustifiable sense of fear.

The facts are clear, in 2005 the violent crime rate in the United States was 4.7 per 1000 population; in the State of New Jersey it was 3.6 per 1000 population; and in the City of Hoboken it was 2.9 per 1000 population. This translates into an increase in violent crime in the United States; a 0 percent increase/decrease in violent crime in New Jersey; and a 19.1 percent decrease in violent crime in the City of Hoboken. What is more impressive is the fact that the violent crime rate for the City of Hoboken year-to-date in 2006 compared to 2005’s record breaking crime reduction is down an additional 6.5 percent and the non-violent crime rate is down 23.3 percent.

The violent crime rate today in Hoboken is lower than at any time in our modern history. In fact, Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reporting records dating back to the 1960’s (earliest available records) show that we have never had a lower number of violent crimes than our 2005 and 2006 statistics. While I agree that for the victim of a crime, one crime is one crime too many, those statistics show Hoboken is not experiencing “a serious increase of violent crime plaguing our city” and there is not a “public safety crisis” in our city.

These impressive statistics notwithstanding, for the past two months we have been conducting background investigations on prospective police candidates with a goal of hiring new officers in the first quarter of 2007. I urge Mayor Roberts to move expeditiously to hire new police officers.

Detective Vincent Lombardi’s references to our elected officials, while I am sure reflect more his emotional state at the time of his writing than his true feelings, are unprofessional and unjustified. Mayor Roberts and the current City Council have expended more of the city’s resources toward public safety than any administration in the history of or city and do not deserve to be vilified.

While I support Detective Vincent Lombardi’s call to increase the number of police offices and I recognize the legitimate personal frustration he is experiencing as a union leader for police officers who are now entering their third year without a raise or contract, I respectfully disagree with his “fear-city” campaign to attain his objectives. I call on him to review the relevant data and report to the citizens of Hoboken his findings concerning the true crime picture in Hoboken.

In closing, let me caution that the low crime rate in Hoboken should not lull our residents into a false sense of security. I must remind our residents that their vigilance and the cooperative relationship the Hoboken Police Department enjoys with the vast majority of our community, coupled with the hard word of our dedicated police officers, has contributed to this safe environment. However, we must not let our guard down; too much is at stake.

Very truly yours,
Carmen V. LaBruno, Ph.D.
Chief of Police


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