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December 29, 09

NEWS / Number of Homicides in New Jersey Declines for Third Consecutive Year

Year-to-date figures show a 10 percent drop in murders in 2009 compared to 2008

Trenton, NJ – Attorney General Anne Milgram today announced a 10 percent decline in the number of murders reported in New Jersey in 2009 compared to 2008. The most significant decline came in Camden, where reported murders dropped 40 percent in the city of Camden, from 55 to 33 as of December 21.

The year-to-date figures, compiled by the 21 county prosecutors’ offices as of December 21, show 332 murders in 2009 compared to 369 in 2008. The total number of murders reported in 2008 was 376.

“We have now successfully decreased the number of murders In New Jersey three years in a row. This is an important step towards greater public safety, and it is the first time that homicides have been reduced three consecutive years in a decade,” Attorney General Milgram said. “This could not have happened without the commitment and hard work of the county prosecutors and local police chiefs.”

Various anti-gang initiatives organized by county prosecutors throughout the state and in five of the state’s urban cities netted 4,597 arrests in 2009, including 1,039 gang members who were mostly part of subsets of the Bloods. Those arrested were also members of the Crips, Latin Kings, Netas, Pagans, and MS-13. The operations, which helped solve 22 homicides and prevent another 13, represented the second phase of an anti-crime initiative that began in 2008 under Governor Corzine’s Strategy for Safe Streets and Neighborhoods.

The operations involve the close cooperation of local, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies, and use intelligence-led policing strategies to target the most violent criminals and gangs trafficking in illegal drugs and gun sales. In Camden alone, more than 1,100 people were arrested. The Camden Police Department, which is under the direct supervision of the Attorney General’s Office, was re-organized in 2008 to put more officers on the street and to deploy more officers to maintain close contact with community members.

There are now regular regional law enforcement meetings, or Gangstat meetings, under the direction of Jose Cordero, the statewide director of gangs, guns and violent crime control strategies, to allow prosecutors and law enforcement officials to share gang-related information. In addition, the State Police launched New Jersey Crime Track in the summer to provide a database for law enforcement agencies through the state to collect, store and share criminal intelligence related to street gangs.

Homicides had climbed to 427 in 2006, and then declined to 381 in 2007 and 376 in 2006. The last time homicides dropped over a period of several years was from 1995- 1999, when the number of murders decreased from 408 in 1999 to 287 in 1999. The number of murders in 2000 increased by just one, to 288, but then climbed to 406 in 2003. The number of murders dropped again in 2004 but went up in 2005 and 2006.

The latest available year-to-date figures for 2009 showed declines in the number of murders reported in Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Hudson, Cumberland, Mercer, Morris, Salem, Somerset and Union counties. There were no murders in 2009 so far in Hunterdon, Salem and Warren counties. Murders increased in Atlantic, Cape May, Essex, Gloucester, Middlesex and Monmouth, and were unchanged in Ocean and Sussex.

The violent crime rate in New Jersey dropped 1 percent in 2008, the seventh consecutive year of a drop in the overall violent crime index, which includes murders, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults. Incidents of violent crime dropped 8.5 percent from 2005 to 2008. The total incidents of crime in 2008, including non-violent crimes, were the second lowest total in 15 years. The full Uniform Crime Report for 2009 will not be compiled until later in 2010.

Phase Two of the Statewide Violence Reduction Initiative in all 21 counties plus Vineland, East Orange, Plainfield, Irvington and Camden, led to the seizure of 648 guns, including 51 assault weapons. Illegal drugs with a street value of more than $10.9 million were confiscated and more than $2.7 million in cash seized by law enforcement.

The inaugural operations in 2008 had led to the arrest of 1,844 suspects, including 530 gang members and 600 individuals with previous arrests for violent crimes. One hundred sixty-two weapons were seized, including 22 assault weapons. Drugs with a street value of $4 million were seized and $857,769 in cash confiscated.

The totals for the last two years are 6,441 arrests, including 1,569 gang members, 810 weapons seized, and $14.9 million in drugs and $3.6 million in cash confiscated.

The totals for the city of Camden alone were 1,414 arrests, including 83 gang members, 125 weapons seized, and $455,222 in drugs and $293,599 in cash confiscated.

A joint law enforcement initiative launched in Irvington this past summer involving the Irvington police department, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, the Essex County Sheriff’s Office, the New Jersey State Police, the State Division of Criminal Justice, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has resulted in the arrest of 335 individuals, including 58 gang members and 313 people with previous arrests for violent crimes. Thirty-two guns, $1,580,000 in illegal drugs and $259,2000 in cash was confiscated. The number of homicides in Irvington year-to-date dropped from 24 to 17.

Also in 2009, Attorney General Milgram noted that the state and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) strengthened its partnership to track the movement of illegal guns into New Jersey and prosecute illegal gun traffickers. Twelve people were indicted in July for the illegal possession, transfer and purchase of firearms that were later recovered by police in connection with crimes in New Jersey. The arrests and indictments were the result of investigations conducted by a task force of State Police detectives and special agents of the ATF. The task force also included police officers from Trenton, Mercer County Sheriff’s officers, and detectives from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office.




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