PATERSON, NJ - Operation Ceasefire sponsored a Gospel Concert in Montgomery Park on Lawrence Street on Sat., June 25. From noon to 4pm, the afternoon was filled with encouraging messages and an uplifting spirit.

Among the performers were “The Sounds of Zion”, a group of three male vocalists, one of its members being Jamel Capers, who attends the Christian Fellowship Center on Van Houten Street in Paterson, NJ. Other entertainers included Joshua Williams and Mietta Stancil-Farrar, who delivered outstanding performances.

Although the gathering was small, the faithful supporters who did attend expressed their enthusiasm and support through clapping and dancing. While children played in the park nearby, parents and family members joined together to witness the efforts to bring change to Paterson. Their numbers might have been small, but they came together for something they considered important, an effort to bring forth a new atmosphere of hope for their city.

Sign Up for E-News

Ceasefire is joint effort between law enforcement and community leaders. The police put a special emphasis on solving non-fatal shootings. Community leaders canvas neighborhoods to help police develop leads. They also hold Ceasefire marches and other community events, like the gospel concert. The Paterson Police Department has a special Ceasefire unit that works with representatives from the Passaic County prosecutor, sheriff and parole offices.

Paterson's Ceasefire program started in October 2006, according to Sgt. Patrick Murray, head of the unit. Along with Newark and Irvngton, it was among the first Ceasefire programs in New Jersey. Now there are 15. The program origniated in Chicago in the 1990s.
With collaborative efforts between New Jersey police departments and community representatives, Operation Ceasefire has become “ NJ’s Campaign To Stop The Next Shooting.”
 
Crime statistics highlight the need for the Ceasefire program. In cities across America,  young people are falling into destructive patterns of violence. The Center for Disease Control's Violence Prevention website says that in 2010, 84 percent of the homicide victims between ages 10-24 years were killed with a firearm. Another CDC report said that in 2008, 1,280 juveniles were arrested for murder, 3,340 for forcible rape, and 56,000 for aggravated assault.
 
The harsh reality is that minority groups are more likely to get involved in gang activities. In fact, studies show that among 10 to 24 year-olds, homicide is the leading cause of death for African-Americans and  the second leading cause of death for Hispanics.
 
These are the type of statistics that Operation Ceasefire is working to end.