Jefferson's police department is pleased by the October New Jersey State Police Uniform Crime Report, which shows a 51.4 percent drop in the township for the first nine months of the year as compared to the same period in 2012.
Jefferson Township Police Chief Kevin Craig said good old-fashioned police work by his patrol officers and detectives is behind the numbers.
"The most significant reason for the declines during that period is that in 2012 there was a significant number of burglaries, both residential and motor vehicle," Craig told Patch. "With the investigative work of our detectives, we were able to solve those crimes and cleared out a large number of cases."
The chief also pointed to the friendly rapport that exists between J-Town officers and the residents they encounter when they are on the beat.
"We are very much a community service oriented police department," he explained. "We rely heavily on our relationship with citizens. Many of them give us good tips, and the feedback I get from citizens is overwhelmingly positive."
He said that when news are good, people react favorably to law enforcement officers.
"But admittedly, police are in a precarious position. When things are going well, people are happy to see us, but part of our job is also the enforcement end, and it's an important part of what we do to protect the citizens and keep the community safe."
That, however, isn't all that goes into keeping township streets safe, Craig added, noting that no place is perfect.
"We do a lot of work with education on a host of issues," he said. "For example, in Jefferson Township, like every other town in Morris County and around the state, we do have drug issues. We do make narcotics arrests and see a propensity for the use of heroin and prescription drugs. So we take a multifaceted approach."
Craig said the department holds periodic medication take-back events to keep unwanted and unused over-the-counter and prescription drugs out of the hands of children and adults who should not ingest them.
"Education is a big part of maintaining public safety, and [on the issue of drugs], we do try to stay on top of it, educating victims and residents. Enforcement is a big part of it."
The chief said that while the department is pleased about the most recent UCR numbers, he warns that the stats can deceive too. He offered an example of a small town that has one murder one year and none the next, therefore earning a statistical 100 percent drop in its murder rate.
"Our challenge is to make sure we continue to see declines," he said, adding that he takes comfort in the fact that the township is "fortunate not to have many of these major violent crimes."
And with that in mind, he said one must look beyond the state police report to determine the police force's success.
"We use stats to gauge crime, but we focus our goals on what we're seeing day to day and on the quality of life in Jefferson Township," Craig said.
Locally, the chief said the biggest nuisances for cops and citizens alike are drug activity in parks and some local facilities, and litter and vandalism in those areas.
"We also have problems with pharm-related crime, identity crime. We focus on them using education and enforcement," he said. "There are things we can do to direct patrols to frequent these areas more often to dispel that kind of activity.
At the end of the day, Craig said he looks at his officers with a great deal of pride.
"They work really hard and strive to serve the community with the highest respect and professionalism," he said. "That's what I expect from my officers, and that is what we see."