After a series of shootings that left two dead and eight wounded over the Labor Day weekend, mayor Andre Sayegh called on police brass to come up with a plan to curb violence in the city.
Sayegh summoned police director Jerry Speziale and chief Troy Oswald on Tuesday morning to ensure a similar episode does not unfold in the coming weekend. He said he will not allow violence to define his city.
“We don’t want another weekend like that. We’re not going to let less than one percent of people define who we are,” said Sayegh on Tuesday afternoon. He said the Great Falls Festival, Dominican Republic flag raising, and the Labor Day Parade took place during the weekend without a hitch.
Thousands of people attended the festival at the Great Falls, said the mayor, without an incident.
Speziale on Tuesday night said the department will increase presence throughout the city on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. He said he could not publicly discuss the strategies police will employ in suppressing violence in the coming days.
Sayegh said his administration has sought the assistance of both the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office and the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office. He said both have said they will provide resources to the city.
Oswald said police will deploy the special operations group which includes various units like the traffic division, Ceasefire, and narcotics.
“I’m doing an all hands-on deck approach,” said Oswald. He will personally patrol the streets on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Sayegh said he too will join police in patrolling the streets. The Dominican parade is scheduled for this week, which will bring thousands of people to the Silk City.
Police do not believe the recent spate of violence is gang related. Some community leaders have been baffled by the rash of gun violence.
“I don’t know what to make of it,” said pastor Allan Boyer of Bethel AME Church on Auburn Street. He expressed confidence in police to arrest the actors involved.
“The Paterson Police Department has a reputation in making arrests,” said Boyer. “Paterson police is one of the better departments in the nation.”
Paterson has a higher clearance rate than Newark or Jersey City.
“Every once in a while, we have these streaks,” added pastor Michael McDuffie. He said churches need to do more to quell the violence in the city. “We got too many doors closed. I’m sick of it.”
McDuffie said churches could serve as neutral places to settle disputes. He said anyone who has a dispute should seek his mediation and avoid engaging in violence.
“It’s senseless killing,” said Walter Station, who has lived in Paterson for 59 years. He said police need to do better patrols.
“We don’t have any patrol at night,” he said speaking of 11th Avenue. He walks his dog at 11 p.m. at night, he said.
Twice his daughter’s car was broken into while it was parked on 11th Avenue, he said.
“This is not who we are,” said Sayegh referring to the weekend violence.