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Newark Murder Rate: Up Then Down

The mayor of New Jersey's largest city, Newark, is claiming a partial victory in the war on murders and shootings. This is even though the overall murder rate in Newark increased about five percent in 2011 over 2010. However, Mayor Cory Booker said that data for the last half of the year shows that Newark's violent crime rate is going down.

In the first half of 2011, the number of murders and shootings skyrocketed, increasing by 56 percent over the previous year. However, in the second half of the year both the murder rate and the shooting rate decreased, reducing the overall crime rate to two percent in the last six months of 2011.

According to Police Director Samuel DeMaio, the improvement came as a result of the department's reorganization and the implementation of new crime-fighting strategies. He credited stricter enforcement of curfews, more visibility on the streets, and the return of special mobile units such as motorcycle, aviation and mounted units.

There was more attention paid to gun recoveries in the second half of the year. Of a total of 696 weapons removed from the streets of Newark, 432 were weapons confiscated in the second half of 2011. But one of the biggest problems - one that contributed significantly to the increase in violent crimes in 2010, was the reduction in the number of police officers due to budget cuts.

Source: New Jersey Public Radio, "Crime Up But Murder Trend Reversed in Newark," by Mirela Iverac, Jan. 25, 2012.

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