On his final day as the top federal law enforcer in New Jersey, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito took time to praise Newark Public Safety Director Anthony F. Ambrose, calling him a "national treasure."
Carpenito cited Ambrose's "exceptional contributions to cooperative law enforcement" in New Jersey.
“Through his leadership, we have benefited from an unprecedented level of cooperation and proactive participation in our efforts to suppress crime in the great city of Newark," the U.S. attorney said from his office in Newark.
Over the past five years, he said, Ambrose has "transformed the Newark Police Department under the Department of Justice’s Consent Decree and produced record levels of crime reduction in this city.”
Ambrose, who is the city's first-ever public safety director, has "fostered collaborative, productive working relationships among federal, state, and local partners," Carpenito said.
Besides his office, this includes the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the New Jersey State Police, the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security & Preparedness, and several other state and local agencies and police departments, he said.
"The information-sharing and investigative partnerships that have resulted from these relationships has proven critical to investigating, prosecuting, and suppressing violent crime in the City of Newark and surrounding areas," Carpenito added.
Under Ambrose’s tenure, the Newark Violent Crime Initiative (VCI) was awarded an Attorney General’s Award by then-U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr in October 2019.
The Newark VCI was created in August 2017 as a "community-wide cooperative effort aimed at combatting violent crime in and around Newark," with a host of federal, state, county, and city agencies collaborating, sharing intelligence and pooling resources.
A result, in part, has been a reduction in the number of shooting victims citywide by nearly 40% in 2019.
That same year, the number of homicides in Newark reached its lowest level in nearly six decades.
Newark maintained that low total last year while violent crime spiked in Paterson, Jersey City, Camden and other urban areas around the country.
Ambrose also works closely with the U.S. Attorney’s Office on the "Project Guardian," a Justice Department initiative that targets gun crime.
In the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2020, Carpenito's office charged 342 people with federal gun offenses. Of those, 252 were ex-cons prohibited from having guns -- while nearly 90 used them in assaults, carjackings and killings.
"Many of these cases were the result of close coordination and information sharing with Director Ambrose and the Newark Department of Public Safety," Carpenito said.
Ambrose was born and raised in Newark and received both his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees from Farleigh Dickinson University. He is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy. He joined the city force as an officer in 1986 and rose through the ranks, becoming chief in 1999 and director in 2006.
Ambrose also was an Essex County undersheriff from 2006 to 2008 before becoming chief of detectives for the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.
In January 2016, he accepted Mayor Ras Baraka’s invitation to become the cities first public safety director, overseeing the consolidation of police, fire, and emergency management operations.
Ambrose is responsible for more than 1,960 employees, comprising 996 sworn police officers, 611 firefighters, and 346 civilian employees, and manages a budget that exceeds $200 million.
Carpenito, meanwhile, is leaving his position, as is customary when the presidency changes parties. He served for nearly three years and has been praised for several reforms and initiatives undertaken in the U.S. Attorney's Office.
First Assistant U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig will serve as Acting U.S. Attorney under the Vacancies Reform Act until President-elect Joe Biden names a successor.
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