PATERSON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Overall crime is down in Paterson, one of New Jersey’s largest cities, but shootings are up, and the city is deploying technology and a unique strategy to change that in 2021.
This year marks the start of Paterson police equipping the department with police body cameras, license plate readers and expanding its surveillance systems.
“We are talking to one of the doorbell camera apps to see if we can use that as an investigative tool,” Paterson Public Safety Director Jerry Speziale said.
The approach comes as the city announces overall crime dropped 17% in 2020 compared to 2019, but the city’s mayor acknowledges the record rise in homicides, up 42%, and shootings, up 30%, needs to be tackled.
“Quite frankly, there is distrust,” Mayor Andre Sayegh said. “When fewer people want to cooperate or if there’s no cooperation, it’s really harder to solve some of these crimes.”
One unique strategy that Paterson is using to combat violence involves the local hospital.
St. Joseph’s University Medical Center partnered with the Paterson Healing Collective to focus on victims of violent crimes.
“Healers,” like gun violence survivor Teddy Martinez, from the organization respond to the hospital and speak to victims in an effort to prevent retaliation.
“As soon as we get a phone call from the hospital that a person has been a victim of a shooting, a survivor of a shooting or stabbing, I respond to their bedside,” Martinez told CBS2’s Lisa Rozner.
“The initial discussion is between the physician and the patient, and the patient would consent to being interviewed by somebody else,” said Kevin Slavin, president and CEO of St. Joseph’s University Medical Center.
“We’ve been here, we’ve advocated with them with the police, we’ve advocated for them for medical health care,” said Liza Chouhury, project director of the Paterson Healing Collective.
The Paterson Healing Collective also does community walks, even teaching residents recently how to stop the bleed if someone gets shot.
It’s part of efforts they hope to expand with the city in 2021.
The Paterson Healing Collective was started in October and already it says it’s helped 35 gunshot victims and their families.
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