Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Street Shootings Remain Sad Constant in Paterson

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Street Shootings Remain Sad Constant in Paterson

Article excerpt

PATERSON - Anti-crime activist Sylvia Farrar has noticed an upsetting, if not entirely new, Paterson fashion trend - young people wearing T-shirts printed with photos of young friends who have been gunned down on city streets.

"These are human beings who are going to be missed,'' said Farrar about the T-shirt memorials. "These are children who should be able to grow up and become adults.''

Whenever Farrar hears about the latest shootings in Paterson - like the two incidents that left four people wounded early Friday - she is saddened but not surprised. "It seems like no matter what we do, there's always that element that's acting up,'' she said.

Three people were wounded early Friday when a gunfight broke out on 12th Avenue near East 22nd Street after a house party. Another man was wounded in a separate incident blocks away, police said.

None of the three, ranging in age from 19 to 24, suffered life- threatening wounds, and authorities are unsure whether the three people wounded on 12th Avenue were the targets of the shooting.

In the second incident, a 46-year-old city resident was shot in the arm at 12th Avenue and Rosa Parks Boulevard about 3:30 a.m. near the same all-night convenience store that had been the scene of a homicide a month ago, police said.

On July 14, 30-year-old Mark Harris was shot and killed after leaving the same convenience store about 3 a.m., according to police.

Despite the recent drumbeat of violence - including six people wounded in the past six days and two 17-year-olds killed last week after National Night Out events designed to curtail crime - Paterson's crime statistics show 2013 is on track for fewer shootings, compared with the past two years.

In the first six months of the year, 46 people were wounded in 41 incidents, compared with 60 people wounded in 49 shootings during the same period in 2012, according to the city's crime statistics. Paterson also has had 11 homicides this year as of Thursday, compared with 24 for all of 2012.

City residents take little comfort in the statistics. "It's still too many for me,'' Farrar said.

Despite the apparent dip in shootings from 2012 to 2013, the number of victims and shootings for seven months of this year already has surpassed the totals for all of 2010.

"Unfortunately, the statistics don't speak to the social disconnect that exists,'' said Mayor Jeffery Jones. "We've been able to displace the crime in some cases. But displacing it doesn't eradicate it. It just moves it someplace else.''

Paterson Police Director Glenn Brown said the city is looking to hire as many as 50 additional police officers but first must get permission from the state Department of Community Affairs as part of the state's oversight of the municipal payroll.

"Our Special Operations Unit has been able to suppress crime on the street,'' Brown said about a recent initiative that deploys as many as 40 extra officers for a periodic crackdown. …

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