The number of murders in the city declined from 24 to 12, a whopping 50-percent decrease in 2018, according to statistics police released on Wednesday morning.
These numbers represent the fewest homicides since 2004. Only three other years – 1996 with 7 homicides, 2004 with 10, and 1995 with 12 – had the same or fewer number of killings since 1989, according to state police data.
“I attribute this to a whole number of things. Morale. Hard work of the men and women of the Paterson Police Department. Ceasefire Unit. And collaboration with the community,” said police director Jerry Speziale. “We have an young and aggressive police force.”
Speziale said the number of non-fatal shootings dropped from 99 in 2014 to 62 – a 37-percent drop — in 2018.
The number non-fatal shooting incidents began to steadily decline after the passage of the business curfew law four years ago, said mayor Andre Sayegh. He said the reduction of the number of abandoned properties helped to eliminate “eyesores” and “crime magnets.”
“You obviously have proactive policing. They have been enforcing the hotspot ordinance” said Sayegh referring to the 18 high crime zones, where businesses must close at midnight. “You are seeing more of a police presence.”
The numbers often do not translate to a sense of security for residents, a common complaint whenever an official says there’s been a decrease in crime.
“That’s why I have the walking post,” said police chief Troy Oswald. “I’m sure people feel safe in spots where cops are walking. We’re providing them a sense of public safety.”
The walking posts are in the Great Falls and some commercial areas.
The challenge now for the mayor, who has been in office for six months, is to keep the numbers trending downward.
“It’s going well and we’re going to try to keep it going in that same direction,” said Oswald. He has redistributed 10 police officers to units tasked with curbing violence like Ceasefire, Street Crimes, and Narcotics.
“You remember couple of years ago, there was no Street Crimes Unit. Last year, Street Crimes was much smaller. It was two cars, now there’s four and five cars out there,” said chief. He also pointed out police deploy the Special Operations Group, often led personally by the chief, whenever there’s a crime spike.
Police will provide statistics on other crime categories like assaults, rapes, and burglaries later in the week, said Speziale. He said he will also provide five years of data on non-fatal shootings later in the week.