The city’s police department reckons non-fatal shootings have declined in business curfew areas by 71-percent from September through December 2014 compared to the same period the year prior.
Police captain Richard Reyes, who collected and presented the data that provided the backing needed to create the business curfew ordinance, said there were 14 non-fatal shootings in the 15 zones that were designated as hotspot locations in 2013.
During the same period in 2014 – after the designation — there were only four non-fatal shootings, said Reyes.
Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres revealed the 71-percent reduction in non-fatal shootings in curfew zones during his state of the city speech earlier in the month. Torres also touted the nearly 50-percent drop in homicides.
“That’s one of the tools in the toolbox,” said police director Jerry Speziale about the business curfew. He said a combination of factors has led to the decline in shootings and homicides. He said the city’s “Eyes on Paterson” initiative, increased number of police officers, and text for tips as well as community collaboration has contributed a great deal in city’s the improved public safety picture.
Speziale said partnership with federal, state, and county law enforcement agencies also helped. He singled out the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office and the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office both of which served as invaluable law enforcement partners helping to curb criminal activities in the municipality.
“We planted a tree a year ago and we’re reaping the fruits now,” said Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman, chairman of the city council’s public safety committee. He said he wants to expand the ordinance to include two main thoroughfares in his ward’s Totowa neighborhood: Union and Totowa Avenues both from West Broadway to Preakness Avenue.
“It’s a big decline, it’s showing that it’s working,” remarked Ruby Cotton, 4th Ward councilwoman. She said she has witnessed first-hand the improvements that have taken place in her crime-ridden ward.
Andre Sayegh, 6th Ward councilman, who introduced the legislation that created the business curfew, said he believed too many trouble makers were loitering outside that often resulted in senseless violence.
With the curfew businesses are closed after midnight. There’s nothing around to allow troublemakers to loiter about on the streets. “People close their doors and it lessens the likelihood of anything nefarious from occurring,” said Sayegh.
Sayegh said he has witnessed marked improvement in a portion of South Paterson that falls within the business curfew. Areas inside the business curfew zones continue to improve, said Speziale.
Although data has yet to be compiled for 2015, Reyes said police will be able to compare first full year of crime data come September for the curfew zones. The curfew zones were designated based on non-fatal shootings, noise complaints, drug activity, and gang complaints, said the captain.
The 71-percent does not factor in all the aforementioned conditions that resulted in the 15 designations. The September data will likely include all of those factors juxtaposing a before curfew and after curfew picture.
“Throughout the whole city crime has gone down. I credit everybody, including the community getting involved. The police could only do so much without the community’s support,” said Reyes. “Right now the Paterson police department has a lot of support from the community. And I think that’s the key thing why crime is going down.”