Walking back to their apartments in Newark-based Ivy Hill, some students find themselves looking over their shoulders for possible nearby danger. This poses the question of how often students experience crime in the surrounding area.
According to Commanding Officer Captain Derek Glenn of the Newark Police Department, there was one murder, two rapes and seven robberies in and around the Ivy Hill Park Apartments in 2016. There were also two aggravated assaults and 10 burglaries. In addition, there were 22 “Theft F/Auto,” which is the theft of items from inside a vehicle. The crime statistics included eight thefts and 24 auto thefts, totaling 76 crime incidents.
The crime statistics in the data included the region around Tuxedo Parkway, Irvington Avenue and Woodbine Avenue.
Glenn said that these statistics do not differentiate between students, the 15,000 Ivy Hill residents and others in the area. “The homicide was the result of two individuals who got into a shoving match where one of the two combatants fell and hit his head causing a fatal injury,” Glenn said. He added that it began as an argument between a driver and pedestrian.
“Over 99 percent of the city’s sexual assaults were incestuous or reported by individuals who knew one-another,” Glenn said. Domestic violence assaults could be included in the data, Glenn added. Also, no matter where a person lives there is a possibility of homicide, he said.
Glenn has a unique perspective on crime at Ivy Hill. He said that he lived in an apartment there for a year around 17 years ago. He recalled that at the time he lived at Ivy Hill, there was little violent crime. Most of the crime in the area involved some type of theft, he said.
Lauren Gibbs, a senior diplomacy major at SHU, lived in Ivy Hill last semester, which she said was “more than enough time.” She had chosen to live at Ivy Hill because she had just returned from a yearlong study abroad and needed a place to live, she said via email.
“I did feel unsafe and I felt it had something to do with the fact that I did not match the racial demographics of the area,” which is largely Hispanic and African American, Gibbs said. She added that she did not like living there because “it was this constant feeling of having to defend myself and be on my guard 24/7.”
Patrick Linfante, the assistant vice president and director for Public Safety and Security, said in an email interview that the Ivy Hill Park Apartments are not affiliated with Seton Hall. Thus, Ivy Hill is not under an obligation to report crimes to SHU that happen on or around the Ivy Hill property.
This means that there are not always Pirate Alerts sent out about what happens at and around Ivy Hill. “However, if we receive information of a crime in a timely fashion from local law enforcement we will issue a Pirate Alert to the community. The key of course to issuing an alert is timely notification,” Linfante added.
Linfante explained that a Pirate Alert is usually issued when a crime has occurred close to the time they are notified of it. He said that when Public Safety receives reports of robberies from students at and around Ivy Hill in a timely fashion then a Pirate Alert is issued.
While Ivy Hill is not affiliated with SHU, Linfante said they recognize that many students live there and Seton Hall provides Safe Ride services from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m., to and from the Ivy Hill Park Apartments. “We encourage all community members residing or visiting the apartments to utilize this service,” Linfante said.
In August 2015, Public Safety issued an alert warning the SHU community that a murder occurred in Ivy Hill Park, previously reported in The Setonian. The victim died from gunshot wounds. The park is situated between SHU and Mt. Vernon Place.
Chris Capone, a senior sports management and marketing major, was living at the Ivy Hill apartments around the time this homicide occurred. He said he heard about it a week before school started in Fall 2015. However, he had signed the lease so he could not back out. Capone said that he was told the victim was an Ivy Hill resident and for a month following the incident, more police patrolled the area.
Capone added that he has never felt unsafe while living at Ivy Hill. He was skeptical when he originally moved in, but he became used to his surroundings and felt fine walking to and from Ivy Hill. He said it takes him about two minutes to walk from the Wilden Place Pedestrian Gate by the baseball field to Ivy Hill. Other than the murder and a noise complaint, he said he has not heard of any other issues while living there.
“I chose to continue living there because it really isn’t that bad of an area as people make it out to be,” Capone said via email. “All it is is diverse and I feel that that turns some people away.” He added that the rent is cheap and he has not had one instance where he felt threatened. “I can’t even recall a time where I felt at least a little uneasy,” he said.
Capone encourages students to live there, adding that there is constant security.
Heather Weick, a senior social and behavioral sciences major, has lived at Ivy Hill for around two years. She said her neighbor told her about a robbery on the first floor three months ago, but she was not informed by Ivy Hill management, which makes her nervous there may have been other robberies in the building that she simply does not know about.
“I was under the impression that things had gotten better before I decided to move here,” Weick said via email. She added that she is cautious around the area, as, “I have run into people who harass me and my friends in the parking lot or in the hallway but we have not been physically harmed in anyway.” Weick said that these harassments are “disrespectful advances,” including whistling, a honking of a car horn and being told “come here honey.”
Weick said she receives numerous Pirate Alerts in reference to the Ward Gate, which is how she gets to campus. “I have never felt 100 percent safe at Ivy and am looking forward to leaving the building but found that it was appropriate for my time as a student,” she said.
Within her apartment, Weick said she feels safe as she and her roommates have installed an additional lock on their door. Also, Weick and her roommates carry pepper spray as a precaution. They try not to linger in the parking lot or go too far past their building, she said.
Weick said Ivy Hill is cheap and close to SHU, but she also found it to be dirty and occasionally risky. However, “if you are smart about how and when to leave the apartment, it can help you in avoiding unsafe situations.” She said she avoids leaving Ivy at night, especially alone.
She lives in building 240, which is the closest to SHU, so her walk to reach campus is under five minutes. There are many students walking from Ivy to SHU during class hours so it’s not too bad then, she said.
Ethan Kraft, a senior broadcasting and sociology double major, was the victim of theft in an elevator at Ivy in the fall semester of 2015, after he’d lived there for two years. He said he was in the elevator when a man demanded his phone and then pushed him out. However, Kraft said the armed security guard at Ivy caught the thief and recovered the stolen phone. The thief was later identified as not being an Ivy Hill resident.
Even though he was robbed, Kraft said he has had a positive experience living at Ivy. He does not think that his one experience should speak for the entire community. He said that security guards take their jobs seriously and that the armed guards are usually off-duty cops.
“Ivy Hill Park Apartments’ residents are largely working class, immigrant families who want to live in a safe community, just as much as I do,” Kraft said via email.
“The apartment company’s response to that instance of petty crime (him being robbed), my unrelated requests as a resident, as well as the numerous pleasant interactions I’ve had with my neighbors far outweigh my opinion of Ivy Hill than any unpleasant experiences I’ve had,” Kraft added.
Samantha Todd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.