GIRGENTI & JOHNSON CALL ON GOVERNOR & ATTORNEY GENERAL TO ACT IN WAKE OF RISING HOMICIDE RATES

2010 Saw First Increase in Homicides in Four Years

Senate Law & Public Safety Chairman John Girgenti (D-Passaic, Bergen) and Assembly Law & Public Safety Chairman Gordon Johnson (D-Bergen) today called on Governor Christie and Attorney General Paula Dow to address a 15% rise in the number of homicides that took place in New Jersey in 2010.

“The rise in homicides in New Jersey is certainly disturbing and we must ensure that all measures possible are being taken to lower this rate in the future,” said Girgenti. “Not only does violent crime have the obvious physical and psychological impacts on us as individuals, but it also provides a major deterrent to the economic well being of New Jersey. We must ensure the safety of our state so we can continue to attract new businesses as well as maintain existing businesses.”

“Periods of economic instability often precipitate spikes in crime. While the spike in homicides this year is truly disturbing, it is not altogether surprising, especially given the significant cuts in state aid that are causing massive layoffs in law enforcement in some of our largest cities. Cost-saving measures cannot trump public safety in the end. The Governor and the Attorney General should be doing everything within their power to ensure that New Jersey has a handle on violent crime,” said Johnson.

Recent media reports indicate that there were 364 homicides in New Jersey in 2010, 15% more than occurred in 2009. This also marks the first time the state has seen a rise in homicides from one year to the next since 2006. Homicides rose in 12 of New Jersey’s 21 counties in 2010, as well as in several of the state’s largest cities.

While a specific reason for the spike has yet to be determined, Girgenti and Johnson noted that poor economic conditions can led to an increase in crime, especially among violent street gangs. Moreover, with drastic layoffs of police officers in the state’s urban areas either already having occurred or looming – and with significant layoffs also expected in suburban communities -there is potential that gang activity will grow and spread.

“A key component of any successful economic recovery is a coordinated crack down on crime. Businesses and residents, alike, want to have confidence that their government is doing all it can to make New Jersey a successful place to locate and flourish,” added Johnson.

“New Jersey residents must be safe while going to and from work as well as while they are at work. As we continue to push bipartisan legislation on economic development and job growth we ask that the governor and the Attorney General address this rise in crime head on and develop and implement strategies that will keep our residents safe. We will gladly assist them in this effort and welcome further discussion on this vital issue,” said Girgenti.