With three fewer officers on the force, the Morristown Police Department dealt with a greater number of violent crimes in 2011 versus 2010, according to the latest Uniform Crime Report.
The report, released last week by the Department of Law & Public Safety, noted overall crime in New Jersey rose 3 percent from 2010 to 2011, but violent crimes had remained the same. In Morristown, however, violent crime—classified as murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault—rose in two categories.
One incident classified as "rape" was reported in 2011, up from none in 2010; reported robberies rose by nine, from 29 to 38.
Reported aggravated assaults dropped five ticks, from 49 to 44. There were no reported murders in Morristown in either year, according to the report.
Reported non-violent crimes saw drops in larceny, motor vehicle theft and arson. Reported burglaries, however, rose to 136 in 2011, from 95 reported burglaries in 2010.
Larcenies dropped from 347 reported in 2010 to 340 in 2011; motor vehicle thefts fell from 14 to 11; while reported larcenies went from one in 2010 to none reported in 2011.
The report also notes how the number of police officers in each town changed year over year. In Morristown, a classified "urban center" at 2.86 square miles with an estimated population in 2010 of 18,411, the number of police officers—both full-time and civilian cops—dropped from 57 to 54, with one less fulltime officer reported from 2010 to 2011, according to the report.
During a November budget conference, however, Morristown officials said the department expected to add another seven cops by spring 2013, according to a Daily Record article.
Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa said in a news release about the state report "the factors that influence crime trends are complex and interwoven" and law enforcement "remain committed to working harder and smarter to combat crime and protect New Jersey citizens during what remains a tough economic time for much of our state and our nation.”
Following the report's release, Police Chief Peter Demnitz, a member of the Morristown Police Department for about 30 years, noted the numbers don't quite sync up with reality. The chief cited the tens of thousands of people who come into Morristown daily—from workers to merry makers—without incident.
"If the Uniform Crime Report were based on use population rather than solely residential population, Morristown would look like the safest small city in the country," he said.
Citing the burglary and robbery statistics, Demnitz said arrests were made in both cases and the number of incidents dropped off afterward. "It was the work of either a single person, the burglaries, or, in the case of the robberies, it was two groups of persons who were arrested as well," he said.
Demnitz called the drop in aggravated assault reports—which can include bar fights—surprising. "And yet, with all the bars we have in town and all the people we have in town and all the alcohol consumption, [aggravated assault is down,]" he said. "It indicates Morristown, with all the people and all the activity, is a very safe town.
"Obviously, we all the people coming into town, they think that, too," Demnitz added.
Morristown2010 2011 Crime Index Total 534 570 Violent Crime 78 83 Non-Violent Crime 456 487 Crime Rate Per 1,000 29.0 31.0 Violent Crime Rate Per 1,000 4.2 4.5 Nonviolent Crime Rate Per 1,000 24.8 26.5 Violent Crime Murder 0 0 Rape 0 1 Robbery 29 38 Aggravated Assault 49 44 Nonviolent Crime Burglary 95 136 Larceny 347 340 Motor Vehicle Theft 14 11 Arson 1 0