Mayor John G. Ducey has released the following statement regarding the recent shooting and crime in the community:
“As a parent of a 7-year old son, I fully understand and appreciate the fear we all experienced when news broke of a shooting near Brick Memorial High School. October 22 was, without a doubt, my worst day as Mayor. As the person who bears the ultimate responsibility for every single resident of this town, I recognize and continue to be fully committed to enhancing safety.
Many people have contacted me in the wake of this incident and shared their fears. Some have suggested that crime is rising in Brick Township. The statistics show this is not true. Yes, we have had several high profile incidents in the past few weeks. However, crime has been trending down in our community.
In 2018, Brick Township had 65 violent crimes. This is the lowest amount since 2005. Also, property crimes from 2014-2018 are down 21% compared to 2009-2013. This isn’t perception or conjecture. These are facts. These are statistics from the FBI Crime Report.
That being said, even one violent crime is too many. That is why the Council and I have been working with the Brick Township Police Department to ensure that they have the staffing and the resources they need to better protect our community. Over the past five years, we have taken many measures to do just that. These include:
- Appointed Chief Riccio as police chief. I wanted a “boots-on-the-ground” leader and have been so pleased with my decision. He is a great leader of a great force.
- Staffed our Police Department with the highest numbers of police officers in Brick Township history.
- Restored the Selective Enforcement Team formerly known as the gang task force. We just added 4 officers to support their work.
- Identified areas with high crime activity and designated them as special districts. These areas have 24-hour police presence. As a result, there has been a significant decrease in crime in these neighborhoods and a much better partnership with residents who are equally committed to a safe neighborhood.
- Increased training for officers, particularly for active shooter situations.
- Adopted a responsible landlord ordinance that will hold landlords responsible when their tenants commit crimes. We can’t control who lives in our community; we can’t make people leave. But, we can impose monetary penalties and force legal action when tenants don’t respect out community and our laws. We can – and did – take measures that will continue to encourage landlords to better vet their tenants and get rid of them if they prove to be bad citizens.
These measures have been paying off. The FBI’s statistics show that.
In response to the recent shootings that occurred in Brick Township, Chief Riccio has stepped up patrols and special enforcement in areas known for criminal activity. Among other initiatives, manpower has been added to the department’s Drug Enforcement Unit (DEU) and Selective Enforcement Team (SET). Recently, Brick detectives joined forces with the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office in a joint effort to target areas known for illegal activity. These units worked together to aggressively target these areas which included those frequented by the juveniles arrested in connection to last week’s shooting incident. These cooperative efforts led to the arrest of nineteen (19) individuals over a three-day period.
In terms of actual statistics, there were 65 violent crimes in Brick in 2018; the lowest since 2005. Violent crimes over the past five years are down 18% from the previous 5-year period; property crimes are down 21%. By these measures, Brick Township is becoming a safer community.
Few things evoke fear like school shootings – the fact is that this happened near a school as kids were let out. Parents were rightfully scared. Also, Brick Township unfortunately has had a few high profile incidents over the past few weeks. Two murders that were the result of domestic violence and the two drive-by shootings including the one by the school, which turned out to be connected. These were not random acts of violence. When high profile crimes happen, they are posted on social media and shared and take on a life on their own, often not based in fact but based on instilling fear. It creates a narrative that Brick Township is a dangerous community. Statistics show we are trending the other way.
Also, gangs are not geographically exclusive to Brick Township. These people are members of gangs that are region-wide, if not nation-wide. That is why the fight against gang violence involves several layers of law enforcement. Our Police Department works with other local departments, the County Sheriff and Prosecutor’s Office, the State Police, the FBI and other agencies to combat gang presence and violence. This interdepartmental cooperation and the dissemination of information is essential for these efforts. Our Police will continue to work with them diligently and I have nothing but the utmost faith and confidence in Chief James Riccio and our officers.
With regards to what citizens can do to help us in this fight, first and foremost, I would encourage everyone to first think about your safety and the safety of your family before doing anything. Don’t put yourself in harm’s way. If you see or are aware of any activities that concern you, call our Police Department at 732-262-1100. They are best equipped to deal with any issues.
Again, I understand the fear that was felt upon the first reports of shots fired at a school in town. It must have been similar to the fear that Brick Township parents felt in 1990 when news broke of a student holding his classmates hostage with a shotgun at a Township high school.
I absolutely will continue to focus on ensuring our police have the tools they need to keep us safe and know that our residents will work with them to whatever extent possible. Together, we will experience joys and face challenges and grow stronger in our commitment to our Town.
Mayor John G. Ducey”