The Times of Trenton this weekend reported that Ewing Township is happy about the lack of gangs following arrests made after some well-publicized incidents involving battling gang members and guns.
Things might seem better in Ewing, but a handful of arrests made and a few months of quiet do not mean things are really any better in Ewing. The article says the arrests ended a gang war, but there is no possible way to authoritatively make this statement.
But Ewing obviously wants to set the record straight about its return to peaceful suburban normalcy. And the funny thing is Ewing can get away with it, because most of the gang crime that occurs there is probably not reported, or even picked up on by law enforcement.
Trenton on the other hand cannot get away with making such false statements about public safety, even though Mayor Doug Palmer and Police Director Joseph Santiago do on a constant basis.
In recent years Director Santiago said crime is at an all-time low, but anyone living, or even visiting the city, can tell things are not OK all over Trenton.
In certain areas there are random acts of violence all the time, which leads to an environment where people feel unsafe, whether it is true at the moment, or not.
When people feel unsafe, it is very difficult to remedy, and Mayor Palmer and Director Santiago can make all the statements about crime they want. It does not have the same effect as in Ewing, where the vast majority of residents still feel safe so statements about safety have credence.
Twenty-plus homicides a year and innumerable assaults and lesser crimes hammer the lack of public safety home to everyone in Trenton and the surrounding area.
The statement “crime is down” goes against the public perception.
And it is all about perception.