The homicide total in Trenton, N.J., is soaring, and the police know retaliation can only make things worse, reports the New York Times. Nine people were killed in the first three months of 2007, up from two last year. The increase has shaken the city of 85,000 people and strained the resources of the eight homicide detectives, some of whom are working 18- or 20-hour shifts.
With arrests in only two of the nine cases, authorities have attributed the violence to the availability of guns, to gang members disrespecting one another, or simply to the kind of bloodshed that often follows the drug trade. Investigators have been hindered by a lack of cooperation from a public aware of witness intimidation and retaliation. “The fear is real,” said Trenton mayor Douglas Palmer. “But what we need is for the citizens to give us anonymous tips, and not to tolerate this kind of behavior.” Other cities in the region have been hit by rising violence. In Philadelphia this year, there were 104 homicides through April 2, a significant increase over the same period last year. Newark's homicide rate is up slightly, despite an overall drop in crime.