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Rutgers Students Join Newark Community Safety Effort

December 01, 2009 – 

Second-year student Robert Colby has mobilized members of the Rutgers School of Law–Newark community to participate in Mayor Cory Booker’s Community Caravan Night Patrols. “I think it’s important to show the law school’s support for this effort and to demonstrate our commitment to the city,” says Colby.

Newark night patrols   
Rutgers–Newark law student volunteers who joined Mayor Cory Booker (back row, center) for one of the city’s community caravans are (back row, l-r): Dave Edward, Brian Biglin, Robert Colby, and Omar Minott; front row (l-r): Jorge Estrada, Helen Colby, and Caroline Amorosa.   
A native Californian who now lives in Middlesex County, Colby first learned of the crime-disrupting program on Mayor Booker’s Facebook page and through his YouTube videos. The program involves five to 10 caravans of community volunteers in minivans escorted by police cars that travel throughout the city between 7 and 10 pm two nights a week. The goal is to engage the Newark community in helping to disrupt criminal behavior during high-crime hours.

Crime statistics suggest the initiative is working, says Colby: Newark experienced a 29% overall drop in violent crime and so far, during the hours of the patrols, there has not been a single shooting, he reports. “The program is giving Newark residents a period each week during which they can feel safe to go out, shop, visit neighbors, and do other things they should to be able to do in the evening,” he says.

Colby began recruiting fellow law students in November. Those who volunteer their time are given a “Rutgers–Newark Night Riders” T-shirt. The involvement of Rutgers students sends an important message of support and engagement to Newark residents, Colby believes. With Mayor Booker looking to program participation levels before deciding whether to keep it next year, Robert Colby hopes that enough law students and community members continue volunteering through December to put the initiative on Newark’s calendar for 2010.