With 44 murders last year, Camden, N.J., remained the state’s homicide capital and surpassed the rate of two notorious killing cities: Washington and Detroit, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. Camden’s murder rate was more than double Philadelphia’s. Camden’s 44 murders were a six-year high and a 33 percent increase from 2002, when about 100 state troopers were assigned to reinforce the city’s police.
Nationwide, the number of homicides has inched up in recent years, even as the number of property crimes has fallen drastically, said sociologist Charis Kubrin of George Washington University. The number of homicides nationally is still lower than it was in the early and mid-’90s. “Is this the beginning of a trend? I don’t think so. I don’t think we’ll see homicide rates skyrocket,” she said.
A reason for the spike in Camden has eluded law enforcement officials. “Homicide statistics will always have peaks and valleys, and they can’t always be explained,” Camden County Prosecutor Vincent P. Sarubbi said yesterday. “It’s not as simple as pinpointing one factor.”
Of Camden’s 44 homicides, 31 – or 70 percent – were believed to be drug-related, said Sarubbi, whose office took control of the Camden City Police Department in March. “The homicides are occurring in very specific areas that are known drug-trafficking areas,” he said. “The crime rate in downtown Camden is not very significant.”