The number of homicides in New Jersey declined for the third consecutive year, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. Camden, long identified as one of the nation’s most dangerous cities, led the way with a decline from 55 to 33 homicides as of Dec. 21, a 40 percent reduction. Statewide, New Jersey had 332 homicides in 2009 as of Dec. 21, compared with 369 as of Dec. 21, 2008, a drop of 10 percent. Attorney General Anne Milgram attributed the state’s overall drop in violent crime to more effective law enforcement efforts, including antigang initiatives and seizures of illegal guns.
Milgram highlighted antigang initiatives that netted 4,597 arrests in 2009. Those arrests helped solve 22 homicides and prevent another 13, she said. The Camden police department, which falls under the supervision of the Attorney General’s Office, was reorganized last year to put more officers on the street and improve communication between the department and the community. Camden Councilman Gilbert “Whip” Wilson, a former Camden police officer, cautioned against attributing the drop in homicides solely to law enforcement, saying that it could be the result of a combination of factors, including police work and community involvement.