NEWARK (CBS 2) — There has been a huge increase in violent crimes in Essex County, particularly in Newark. The trend is so alarming, the county prosecutor is calling in the National Guard to help combat the violence.
There were three murders in just a nine-hour period in Newark this week, and since the police layoffs 10 days ago, six people have been shot and there have been a number of carjackings.
It’s the kind of violence that residents know too well.
Cynthia Andrews’ son, Mujaheed, was recently gunned down.
“They took a part of my heart away from me, and my son is just gone, and they still haven’t found the killer,” she said.
The prosecutor’s office said it’s not just Newark, but a surge of violence across Essex County. The office is banding together with 11 agencies, including state police and New Jersey National Guard helicopters, to fight the upswing in crime.
Have the police layoffs in Newark contributed to the spike in violence?
“It’s something we’re mindful of and looking at, but it’s too early to tell,” Thomas Fennelly, chief assistant prosecutor in Essex County, said.
So far this year, there have been 119 homicides in Essex County, including 76 in Newark.
Sherriff’s officers will patrol streets and set up checkpoints.
“Both the layoff syndrome, as well as the spike in violence, are not a Newark problem,” Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura said. “It’s a New Jersey problem, it’s a national problem.”
Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Newark’s police director were unavailable for comment, but crime statistics show that when the Newark Police Department laid off police back in 1978, there was an increase in murders. Those numbers dropped when they rehired several years later.
“We still have bodies out here, on the streets, dropping dead,” Andrews said.
While Andrews applauded the newly formed coalition, she said she can’t understand how police officers are being laid off.
Bergen and Union Counties will also work with Essex County.
Law enforcement officials said that there is another alarming trend – because newer cars have anti-theft devices, more criminals are carjacking drivers at gunpoint.