For the second year in a row, Paterson saw a record number of murders.
Paterson logged 28 murders in 2021, highest figure since 1989. It had 27 murders in 2020 which was also a record.
“In my first two years as Mayor, there were 12 homicides in 2018 and 19 homicides in 2019. Now as we face a once-in-a-century crisis, we are combating a rise in gun violence like almost every other city in the country,” said mayor Andre Sayegh.
Sayegh said police recovered 200 guns in 2020. He said they recovered more than 200 in 2021. He also pointed out his administration hired 25 police officers last month and aims to hire 31 more next month to rebuild the understaffed police force.
Public safety director Jerry Speziale did not respond to a call for comment.
“I was under the impression that last year was the worst year ever. And then this year, surpassed last year,” said councilman Michael Jackson. He said the murder rate began to increase after Sayegh forced former police chief Troy Oswald into retirement and appointed Ibrahim “Mike” Baycora.
Baycora has been criticized by some council members. He came under criticism last month for going on extended vacation as homicides hit a new record.
“People have this sense that anything goes in Paterson,” said Jackson, who is running for mayor against Sayegh. He suggested the change in leadership has destabilized the department. “The officers don’t respect the chief,” he said.
Councilman Flavio Rivera said he would like to see a plan from the mayor’s team to curb crime. “Our residents do not feel safe,” he said.