The number of shootings in Newark, including drug-related attacks, dropped significantly last year, driving the murder rate further down, says the Newark Star-Ledger. As of Wednesday, Newark had 67 murders in 2008, compared with 99 the year before, and 107 in 2006. Of this year’s murders, 36 percent were drug-related, compared with nearly half of 2007’s killings. Police Director Garry McCarthy has been worried about a category of killings that remained stubbornly high: targeted shootings driven by the narcotics trade. These murders, which McCarthy labeled “drug assassinations,” would be key to cutting the city’s murder rate further.
After putting more cops on the street when most violent crime happens, going after fugitives, and cracking down on quality-of-life offenses, he started a Violent Enterprise Strategic Trargeting program, bringing together local, county and federal law enforcement agencies to divvy up the city’s worst drug spots. Newark’s steep murder reduction led New Jersey cities, most of which either saw more modest drops or slight upticks.