A year after the business curfew was implemented crime hot spots witnessed 79-percent drop in non-fatal shooting incidents, according to a new report released by Paterson police.
There were six non-fatal shootings incidents with nine victims in the 15 designated crime hot spots between September 1st, 2014 and August 31st, 2015, according to police data.
The previous year — before the implementation of the business curfew ordinance — there were 29 non-fatal shootings incidents with 42 victims between September 1st, 2013 and August 31st, 2014 in the same areas, according to the report.
Citywide there was a 43-percent reduction in non-fatal shooting incidents after the business curfew. There were 57 non-fatal shooting incidents with 63 victims from September 1st, 2014 through August 31st, 2015, according to the data. During the same period a year prior there were 100 non-fatal shootings with 122 victims.
“It shows a drastic reduction,” said police director Jerry Speziale. As a result of the reduction in hot spot areas, non-fatal shootings citywide dipped by nearly half during the same period, according to data.
“The main reason for this ordinance was to see if we can get a handle on gun violence, gang violence, quality of life issues in the city,” said police chief William Fraher. “We’ve been fairly successful in driving down crime citywide.”
City wide noise complaints dropped by 8.5-percent in December 2014, according to data. There were 150 noise complaints in the city in the month of December in 2014 – after the business curfew ordinance came into effect – compared with 164 in December of 2013, according to data.
Noise complaints also dropped in the summer. In August 2015 there were 403 noise complaints in the city down from 472 in the same month in 2014, according to data. A 14.6-percent drop.
Citywide gangs and drugs related complaints have skyrocketed in December of 2014 by 155.7-percent. There were 133 gangs and drugs complaint in December 2014 compared to 52 in the same month in 2013. However, gangs and drugs complaint saw a drop in the summer – 199 complaints in August 2015 compared to 251 in the same month in 2014, according to data.
Noise complaints decreased in business curfew zones by more than half in December of 2014. However, the reduction became less pronounced in August of 2015 with a lesser 18-percent reduction.
Gangs and drugs complaint in business curfew areas exponentially increased in December 2014 to 34 from 10 in the same month in 2013. However, in August 2015 there was a decrease to 36 from 58 in the same month in 2014, according to data.
William McKoy, 3rd Ward councilman, said many of his constituents in the Eastside section, have complained crime is crawling into their once quiet streets. “Crime in some way is being pushed to less active areas,” he said.
“I found no signs that actual displacement occurred,” said Richard Reyes, executive officer at the police department. However, police officers surveyed, majority of them stated there has been displacement.
McKoy said neighbors have complained more drug transactions are being witnessed in areas that were once crime free.
Fraher said the business of drug dealing has changed. He said now sales are conducted through text messages and other technologies making every neighborhood or street a possible drug dealing location.
There also has been an increase in drug activity and gun violence in the Route 20 area, mentioned McKoy. Fraher said the McLean Boulevard area is often used by Bergen County heroin consumers who presume it’s a safe place to quickly exchange money for drugs to feed their addictions.
Speziale said police have been watchful of the area and have conducted busts along McLean Boulevard, but the intense addiction that drives the buyers is so strong that it does not always deter them from coming back.
“They just keep coming back,” said the director.
The council approved the ordinance in an 8-1 vote in September of 2014. Julio Tavarez, 5th Ward councilman, cast the sole vote against the ordinance, feeling the city ought to take advantage of the late night flow of people by developing a thriving night scene as other metropolises have done.
At that time 15 streets were on the designated hot spot list; now, the council is seeking to expand the ordinance to cover portions of Union and 12th Avenues.
Council members on Tuesday evening celebrated the reduction in shootings in the designated areas.
“This is one of the best programs they have,” said Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman, 2nd Ward councilman. “If it was possible I’d like to have curfews everywhere.”
“It’s a great tool,” remarked Michael Jackson, 1st Ward councilman.
Andre Sayegh, 6th Ward councilman, supported the expansion and said the city ought to continue expanding it until all city streets are safe.
Alex Mendez, councilman at-large, disagreed with the expansion. “This is not the answer,” he said.
Mendez is connected to bar owners and liquor establishments that are fighting the city in court to repeal the business curfew ordinance that forces them to shut down businesses at midnight in crime zones.