Acting Police Director Samuel DeMaio says things are “headed in the right direction” despite a 40% rise in gun violence this year. He is confident his new “Safe City” campaign will ultimately have a positive effect and points to a recent downward trend as evidence.
According to the Star-Ledger there were 175 shootings in Newark between January 1 and July 10. These shootings left 213 people dead or injured. During the same period in 2010, there were 125 shootings and 161 injured or dead. This is a pretty significant rise in violence for the troubled city, but something DeMaio says is soon to turn around.
“We’re not going to turn everything around in one month. That’s impossibility. But we’re heading in the right direction.” DeMaio went on to say, “We weren’t doing the right thing in January, February, March, April, or May.”
Within one month of taking over the position in May, DeMaio implemented the “Safe City” anti-violence program, increasing police presence and community involvement in the most dangerous neighborhoods. While the number of shootings in June 2011 was greater than in June 2010, the amount fell from May to June this year, evidence he says that the program is working.
The community is cautious in its relief, however, particularly after this week of significant violence. Two massive shooting incidents happened early this week, killing a 15 year old high school football player and injuring 11 others.
Officials say the shootings are due to “a small group of individuals”, members of competing “drug crews”, though they won’t say if the crews are gang related. In both major shootings this week, a car pulled alongside a group before multiple people opened fire.
Increasing police presence and community involvement seem to be obvious solutions. But when a city has seen as much violence as Newark, it’s no wonder the people are suspicious of the potential benefits. When people live in violent neighborhoods and don’t see law enforcement as being particularly helpful, they are more likely to feel hopeless and to hide out indoors rather than get involved to help stop the violence.
You can bet if you are caught in violation of gun laws or arrested for drug related violence, you will face some serious consequences in the local courts. When violence is out of control, as it seems to be here, the police, prosecutors, and courts would like to make an example of the people they do catch in hopes of deterring those they can’t.
If you are facing drug charges or weapons charges in New Jersey, contact me today to discuss the details of your case.