Newark, the largest city in New Jersey, has seen its murder numbers increase. Newark Police Department Director Samuel DeMaio told NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider that while murder rates are up, the number of non-fatal shootings have decreased.
“As of today, right now we’re up 10 murders from last year, but it’s a very interesting dynamic,” said Demaio. “While we’re up in murder, for the number of 10, in non-fatal shootings we’re down just about 50 which is the highest number of separation in any given time of the year that we’ve been down as far back as we track numbers.”
DeMaio says that the difference between both statistics might be due to the weapons being used — AK47s and high capacity magazine weapons. He says the city has never weapons with such fire power.
According to DeMaio, most of the murders have been targeted assassinations and gang related killings — incidents where people have planned them. It’s different from organized crimes in the past, however.
“It’s different in the way it’s been done,” says DeMaio. “In the times of organized crimes homicides the way we’re seeing them today, you didn’t see people on a street corner opening fire when there’s civilians in the area walking around.”
DeMaio views it as a total disregard toward the public’s safety with the way the homicides and murders have been taking place.
In order for the city to take more control of the situation and to avoid the increase in murders, DeMaio says that Newark can’t do it alone. The city has partnered with the state police, county prosecutor’s office and federal agencies. Detectives and officers have been assigned with each of the agencies and are using task force approaches on violent crimes.
DeMaio says that most of the weapons used in the murders are being bought outside of the Garden State. Last year alone, 900 weapons were recovered and not one was purchased legally in New Jersey. Most weapons are coming from gun shows in Pennsylvania and southern states considering that most states just require a state license for purchase, according to DeMaio.
Investigations into the weapons’ purchases have found that college students have completed them, according to DeMaio. Since some students take residency and have driver’s incenses within states that allow weapons purchases, they’re being paid to make the purchases and transfer the weapons to New Jersey. The methods being used to purchase the weapons are similar to the way underage drinkers have others make purchases for them, according to DeMaio.
For the last two years, Newark has partnered with the FBI and the Department of Justice and have taken down the tops of crime organizations, which DeMaio says is an effective tactic.
“We found in a couple of investigations that we did, when you take off the top of the organization, the rest of the crew just scurries around aimlessly, and it makes it a lot easier to pick them off and to eliminate the market,” said DeMaio.
DeMaio also says that there have been murders for as long as the city has tracked and that the lowest year ever had 58 murders in a time that Newark had about 1,700 police officers. Now the city has a bit more than 1,000 officers and DeMaio says it’s unrealistic to say that there won’t ever be any homicides.