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Neptune, Asbury Park Seek $500,000 Grant to Fight Gangs


coaster-news-200Neptune and Asbury Park police plan to aggressively deal with local gang-related crime and violence by seeking a $500,000 federal grant designed to create safer neighborhoods.

This week Neptune Chief Financial Officer Michael Bascom submitted an application to the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, for a Violent Gang and Gun Crime Program Grant, also called “Project Safe Neighborhoods.”

He said he expects to know by Oct.1 if the grant has been awarded.

“The grant money will be used to create safer neighborhoods through a sustained reduction in crime associated with gang and gun violence. I believe we have a great deal of support to get funding for this program and look to legislators to support it,” he said. “I think we can make a strong case for the grant considering recent happenings in these target areas.”

There has already been one fatal shooting in Asbury Park this year as well as other shootings and drug and gang activities in both towns.

The $500,000 will be used to place street crime units from multiple jurisdictions in target areas and monitor improvements in reducing crime.

“It will pay for saturation patrols comprised of Asbury Park and Neptune police departments and the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office to implement a non-tolerance program about gang-related crime and drugs. There will also be federal agencies involved at some level,” Bascom said.

The Prosecutor’s Office will provide operational oversight for the program. Neptune will provide the fiscal oversight with Asbury Park as a partner agency.

Bascom said the increased police presence will be done with overtime rather than hiring new officers, He said overtime has been found to be the most cost-effective method of implementing the program.

The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office is looking forward to participating in the program, according to spokesman Charles Webster.

“It’s something we would like to see happen and we want to be a part of it. We will team up with both police departments to reduce violent gang and gun crimes,” he said.

The program will also fund advanced investigation and uncover patrols which will make arrests for local gang and gun activity. It will also create a data base targeting chronic violent offenders who will be monitored and possibly arrested.

There is also a gang member intervention program that will link up with social service agencies, churches and clergy, and other programs to try and prevent problems before they happen.

The program also seeks to partner with a college, like Monmouth University, to conduct community surveys to post and analyze data to monitor the program’s success, recommend improvements, and issue a final report.

Bascom said the grant can be applied for again in two years.

“Hopefully this program will create safe neighborhoods but it also requires community involvement. Many things can be said about police, code enforcement, and others but it takes a community to improve a community. Community residents and groups have to buy into the program- it can’t be successful without them. People have to care about their neighborhoods, help cooperate with the programs, and identify those creating the problems,” he said.

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