NEWARK — As Attorney General Gurbir Grewal rolls out a de-escalation program that puts strict limits on how police interact with citizens, the state's largest city became an example in 2020 of how the rules could be a success.

Public Safety Director Anthony F. Ambrose said on Dec. 30 that thanks to his department's de-escalation program, no Newark police officer fired a shot during 2020.

"This is proof-positive that our de-escalation training is highly effective. Our officers have embraced de-escalation training and are actively employing this resource when engaging with the community,” Ambrose said in a statement.

“Our training also played a huge role in Newark having zero violence during this year’s protests of the murder of George Floyd. The community and police worked together to ensure that non-Newark residents, who came here to protest, didn’t initiate any violence in our city."

Gov. Phil Murphy praised the news on his Twitter account, echoing Ambrose's comment about de-escalation being "proven and effective."

The streak, however, was broken on New Year's Day when a 39-year-old man was killed by gunfire just after midnight near South 11th Street and Woodland Avenue. His name has not been released. Grewal's office is investigating the shooting, as it does with all fatal encounters with police.

According to Newark crime stats through Dec. 27, the city recorded 51 homicides, 124 rapes, 417 robberies, 1,255 aggravated assaults, 568 burglaries and 1,644 auto thefts for a total of 6,267 incidents.

In 2019, a year when Ambrose told News 12 New Jersey Newark officers fired five times, there were 430 additional incidents.

Two of those shots were fired by officer Jovanny Crespo, who shot two suspects in the head during a wild car chase, killing one of them.

In 2019 there were 51 homicides, 140 rapes, 662 robberies, 1,196 aggravated assaults, 753 burglaries and 1,565 auto thefts for a total of 6,697 incidents.

Newark police confiscated 496 illegal weapons in 2020 with 339 arrests, a 7% increase over 2019, when Ambrose said Newark Police recovered 461 illegal guns with 303 arrests.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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