Three months after being appointed as Newark’s Acting Police Director, Samuel DeMaio is expected to be confirmed on a permanent basis on Wednesday by Newark's City Council, according to sources in City Hall and the Council.
Shortly after being appointed Acting Director, DeMaio, 44, launched a Safe Summer initiative, with the goal of reducing crime rates by establishing closer cooperation with Newark’s residents. While the number of homicides is slightly down -- 17 in June and July compared to 22 in the same period last year -- overall, the number of shootings has increased.
“We’re confident as we move through the summer we’re going to start fighting it back,” DeMaio said in an interview on Tuesday, referring to the shootings, “and pushing back downward again.”
Incidents including one where 12 people were shot within a few hours in July and the murders of two teenagers, two female correction officers and a schoolteacher have captured headlines, but DeMaio has also been lauded for establishing a better relationship with the community.
Darrin Sharif, Central Ward Councilman, said residents of his ward have told him they appreciated DeMaio’s responsiveness to their concerns in community meetings and his familiarity with the problems they face -- something that was not always present with the former director, Garry McCarthy, who left in May to become Chicago’s Police Department’s superintendent.
“He’s like a player’s coach,” Sharif said, referring to the fact that DeMaio started working in the Newark Police Department in 1986, at the age of 19, and rose through the ranks. “That resonates respect.”
His summer and end-of-year goals, DeMaio said, are to “drive it [crime] down as far as possible” and continue making positive connections with the community.
“The residents of Newark – they are our customers,” he said. “If they’re not happy, then I’m not doing my job.”