Crime recognizes few boundaries - urban or suburban. That's why it's so important to have police departments cooperate as regional crime fighters, especially to slow the movement of guns and drugs. But fighting crime is more than just good police work. We also need to remedy some of the problems that cause crime to occur by focusing not only on public safety but job creation, housing security and recreation opportunities as well.
That's why, in New Jersey, the mayors of the state's three largest cities have joined together to launch a three-pronged, united front to help change the cycle of poverty and crime. In Jersey City, Newark and Paterson, we have come together to share services, and at times personnel, in fighting crime, while also seeking to coordinate community outreach efforts. Mayors Ras Baraka, Joey Torres and I believe this can become a model for mayors throughout the United States to follow.
Examples of how our three cities will collaborate on public safety matters include sharing information, tracking criminals who travel from city to city, trading gang intelligence and offering communal police manpower and task forces, as well working together on programs such as Cease Fire and departmental efforts for minority recruiting. At the same time, the cities will jointly agree to issue municipal Requests for Proposals that call for bidders to subscribe to responsible gun sales and use, as Jersey City has already done with positive results. In addition, we are partnering with Rutgers University Police Institute to help guide our efforts.
Still, in focusing on crime we must also get to some of its causes. Our cities will try to deal with persistent issues around poverty like maintaining one's home, finding a good job and having productive things to do with free time.
On foreclosures, we intend to collaborate by mandating banks holding municipal accounts to work with us on solutions for problematic mortgages. We will also enhance recreational opportunities for our youth in building healthy competition and community between the three cities by creating a midnight basketball league and other sports competitions.
Perhaps the most important initiative is to help create better job opportunities. Jersey City's prisoner re-entry program is quickly becoming a national model for how to offer supportive housing, jobs and social services for the re-entry community. We are successfully developing partnerships with both law enforcement and the business community to provide meaningful employment and reduce recidivism and will likely be joined by Newark and Paterson in this effort.
Jersey City's job training program has also been effectively building relationships with the private and nonprofit sector to create a significant job bank and develop apprenticeship and training programs in a variety of fields. We will also bring the force of public sector to bear by providing employment training and job entry programs, using resources from three municipalities, their respective agencies and public and private partnerships to allow for greater opportunity.
Clearly this is just the beginning of a more in-depth conversation about how to enhance and engage our communities, work together, and develop strong partnerships to benefit our residents. No doubt, there is more we can and will do moving forward. Still, as a first step we are moving from hope to action. This is a path other city governments should follow.
Steven Fulop is Mayor of Jersey City, NJ.
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