A December 10 homicide was Newark’s 101st this year, one short of a 1995 record, says the New York Times. With three times the number of homicides per capita as New York, Newark is one of the nation’s most violent cities. Last Friday, Mayor Cory Booker and police director Garry McCarthy, tried to draw the focus away from homicides by highlighting recent successes, including a newly fortified warrant squad that had arrested 75 people, and an overall drop in crime. Officials noted an aggressive quality-of-life campaign that has yielded 600 summonses in recent weeks.
The focus on homicides is “frustrating because these murders are overshadowing all the progress we've made making Newark a safer city,” Booker said. “We have a hundred things going, and they will start to pay off in the coming months. People just have to be patient.” Guns is a major factor in the crime problem. “In the past, a drug dealer might have had a gun stashed nearby,” said Michael Wagers of the Police Institute at Rutgers University. “Now it's in his waistband, so small disputes quickly lead to gunfire.” McCarthy is tracking buyers and sellers to other states and forcefully prosecuting people caught with illegal guns to discourage them from treating the weapons as everyday accessories. He hopes that word of Newark's participation in a tough federal program that leads to stiff sentences in some gun possession cases would trickle down to the streets.