Homicides and shootings in Paterson spiked in 2020, but overall crime dropped 17 percent, according to data released by mayor Andre Sayegh on Thursday.
Police recorded 3,568 crime incidents in 2020, down 17 percent from 4,283 the previous year. Property crimes dropped 30 percent from 3,064 in 2019 to 2,153 in 2020. Violent crimes increased 16 percent from 1,219 in 2019 to 1,415 in 2020, according to data.
“Crime has actually gone down overall in a number of categories,” said Sayegh in a press conference at City Hall.
Property crime categories — arson, larceny, motor vehicle theft, and burglary – saw double-digit declines, according to the data.
Burglary dropped 34 percent from 847 in 2019 to 561 in 2020. Motor vehicle theft dropped 33 percent from 375 in 2019 to 251 in 2020.
Violent crime categories – aggravated assault, homicide, rape, and robbery – were mixed. Rape and robbery dropped while aggravated assault and homicide incidents increased.
Aggravated assaults and homicides increased significantly. Aggravated assaults increased 35 percent from 684 in 2019 to 922 in 2020. Homicides increased 42 percent from 19 in 2019 to 27 in 2020, setting a 31-year record.
“Why are homicides going up? Criminologists say because of the Covid crisis. You could easily attribute part of it to that because people lost their normal way of life. They can’t go on vacation. They are afraid to see anyone. They’re stuck in their homes,” said police chief Ibrahim “Mike” Baycora.
Baycora said schools being virtual has also contributed to the increase. Police have arrested teenagers for shootings and gun possession. He also pointed out the number of police officers in the force is down to 2010 levels.
Police launched the so-called “extra protection initiative” to try to curb street violence. A dozen officers have been targeting crime hotspots every night to curb gun violence.
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