Public Safety

Public Safety is the prevention of crimes or disasters and the protection of the general public from significant danger, injury or damage. This section focuses on crime and natural disasters as well as the personnel who provide public safety including police, fire, corrections and homeland security departments

National Rankings provide data on how New Jersey compares to other states on measures of Public Safety.

State and Local Reports provide featured analysis of current Public Safety data within New Jersey and its impact on life in the State.


National Rankings compared to other states, New Jersey ranks...

• 20th Lowest in Violent Crime

July 19, 2013.  With 290 violent crimes per 100,000 population, New Jersey had the 20th lowest crime rate in the country in 2012 according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Excluding the District of Columbia, the highest violent crime rate was Tennessee, with 644 violent crimes per 100,000 people.  Maine had the lowest rate at 123 violent crimes per 100,000 people.

• 5th Lowest in Percentage of School Children Reporting Being Threatened or Injured with a Weapon at School

May 13, 2014.  According to statistics for 2011 published jointly by the Institute for Education Statistics and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 5.7% of New Jersey students in grades 9-12 reported being threatened or injured with a weapon on school property at least one time during the previous 12 months.  Among the 39 states reporting, this ranked 5th lowest. Georgia had the highest rate, with 11.7% of students reporting having been threatend or injured.  New Jersey also ranked 5th lowest for the number of teachers reporting having been threatened by a student (45 states reporting), and 5th for the number of teachers reporting having beem attacked by a student (42 states reporting).

• 1st in Flood Insurance Claims

March 3, 2014.  Between October 1, 2012 and September 30, 2013 (the year following Superstorm Sandy), 75,300 claims were filed in New Jersey to the National Flood Insurance Program.   New York was second with 58,300 claims filed.  New Jersey led the nation in 2012 as well, but the figure was just 22,222 claims. 

• 2nd in Annual Mean Wage of Detectives and Criminal Investigators

April 1, 2014.  With an annual mean wage of $100,140, New Jersey was second only to Alaska with the highest wage for detectives and criminal investigators in 2013 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. New Jersey has 2,990 detectives and criminal investigators. 

• Lowest Rate of Forcible Rape Reported Among the States

July 19, 2013.  With 11.7 forcible rapes reported per 100,000 members of the population, New Jersey has the lowest prevalence of rape reported.  Virginia is second with 17.7 rapes reported per 100,000.  Of course, a large percentage of rapes still go unreported, so the accuracy of this estimate is uncertain.  Similarly, we do not know if there is significant variation among states in the rate at which actual rapes are reported.       

• 6th in Urban Area Homeland Security Funds Received

August, 30, 2013. In FY 2013, New Jersey was awarded $21.6 million in funding under the Department of Homeland Secuirty's Urban Area Security Initiative for an area including Jersey City, Newark, and the seven counties of Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Morris, Passaic and Union.  This funding amount ranked seventh among urban areas in the nation..  The also received $7.2 million under the State Homeland Security Program, an increase of 16% form 2012.

• 2nd in Prison Cost per Inmate

February 29, 2012.  Out of 40 states surveyed by the Vera Institute’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections, New Jersey had the 2nd highest average annual cost per inmate, $54,865, in fiscal year 2010. Only New York was higher, at $60,076 per inmate.

• 1st in Law Enforcement Agencies with Transportation-Related Jurisdiction

July, 2011.  New Jersey and New York together oversee the largest law enforcement agency for transportation. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department employed 1,667 officers in 2008 according to the U.S. Department of Justice’s 2008 statistics. The multiple jurisdictions of the Port Authority Police included LaGuardia, Kennedy, and Newark Airports, the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, the George Washington and Staten Island Bridges, the PATH train system, the Port Authority Bus Terminal, and the Port Newark and Port Elizabeth Marine Terminals. In addition, NJ Transit ranked 12th.

• 4th Largest Police Force and 3rd Largest Per Capita Police Force

July, 2011.  According to the U.S. Department of Justice, New Jersey had the 4th largest law enforcement agency with 3,053 full-time sworn personnel in 2008. In addition, New Jersey had the 3rd largest number of state and local law enforcement full-time employees per 100,000 residents with 503.

• 5th Least Number of Deaths Due to Injury by Firearms

January 2, 2013.  With 5.2 deaths due to injury by firearms per 100,000 population, New Jersey had the 5th smallest rate in the U.S. in 2010 according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Hawaii had the least with 3.2 and Alaska had the most with 20.4 per 100,000 population.

• Tied for 10th Lowest Average Fire Death Rate

December 4, 2012.  With an average of 6.8 unintentional fire or smoke related fire deaths per million of the population in 2006-2010, New Jersey tied for 10th with Connecticut.  The current rate is actually a decline from 7.2 deaths per million in 2003-2007.  Utah had the best rate at just 4.1 unintentional smoke and fire-related deaths.  Mississippi had the worst rate at 27.5 deaths per million. 

• 23rd Lowest Rate of Illicit Drug Use

October 28, 2013.  In 2011 and 2012, 7.99% of the New Jersey population age 12 and older is estimated to have used an illicit drug in the prior 30 days. This ranks 23rd lowest in the nation, and is a significant deterioration since 2007-2008, when 6.23% of the New Jersey population aged 12 or older had used an illicit drug in the past month.  At that time, New Jersey ranked 7th lowest rate in the U.S.  The national average for 2011-2012 was 8.95%, also an increase from was 7.9% in 2007-2008.  Estimates of past month use of illicit drugs ranged from a low of 5.43% in Kansas to a high of 15.61% in Rhode Island for all persons aged 12 or older.  Data are from 2011-2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.



State and Local Reports

The Impact of Parole in New Jersey

December 2, 2013.  According to research conducted by the Rutgers University School of Criminal Justice for the Pew Charitable Trusts, inmates released in New Jersey in 2011 to supervised parole were less likely to commit new crimes than were prisoners released after serving their full term, even after adjusting for the fact that non-parole inmates are higher risk.  Whereas 25% of parolees committed new crimes, 39% of offenders released after serving their full sentence committed new crimes.  Unfortunately, many of these gains were offset when parolees committed technical violations such as failing drug tests or missing appointments. This suggests that, while supervised parole can lower re-offense rates, there are significant challenges to keeping parolees from returning to prison.     

Read the full report


New Jersey Safety along Railroads

The need to move toward a more comprehensive approach to pedestrian safety, including rail crossings and corridors, was underscored in early October 2011 when a 13-year-old boy in Garfield was fatally struck at a NJ TRANSIT roadway crossing. This incident occurred less than 24 hours after two teens in Wayne were struck and killed by a train while trespassing along a rail corridor.

According to the 2012 New Jersey Department of Transportation report:

• In 2010 and 2011, there were a total of 81 incidents involving NJ TRANSIT trains at grade crossings or along the tracks in New Jersey, resulting in 51 deaths.

• Of the 51 deaths, 30 were either accidental in nature or undetermined at this time as to whether they were accidental or intentional.

• Of the 30 accidental or undetermined fatalities, 23 occurred along tracks at locations where the public is not permitted.

• 7 of the accidental or undetermined fatalities occurred at grade crossings.

Read the full report


Additional Reports

Alexander Shalom and George C. Thomas III, Trial and Error: A Comprehensive Study of Prosecutorial Conduct in New Jersey, American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey and Rutgers School of Law-Newark, September 2012.

Delores Jones-Brown and Jon M. Shane, An Exploratory Study of the Use of Confidential Informants in New Jersey, American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey and the Criminal Law Reform Project, June 2011.

New Jersey Commission of Investigation, State of New Jersey Commission of Investigation, 43rd Annual Report, 2011.

John Farmer, Dean of the Rutgers School of Law, Ground Truth: the Untold Story of America Under Attack on 9/11, Riverhead Books, 2009.

American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, The Crisis Inside Police Internal Affairs, June 2009. 
New Jersey Department of Transportation, Pedestrian Safety Management In New Jersey, 2007.



Data from the NJ DataBank may be used with the following acknowledgement:

Source: NJ DataBank (, a project of the School of Public Affairs and Administration, Rutgers University-Campus at Newark