Paterson Top Stories

On Target: Paterson Police Come Out on Top in Making Shooting Arrests



PATERSON, NJ – Paterson police officers have been far more successful in making arrests in non-fatal shootings than their counterparts were in other New Jersey cities, according to a story on

Over the past four years, about 25 percent of the non-fatal shootings in New Jersey high-crime cities get solved, the story said. But the Paterson police department has been successful in solving about 50 percent of its non-fatal shootings during that same time period, according to statistics in the story.

Sign Up for E-News

“I think that’s because we have a special unit that focuses on the non-fatal shootings,’’ said the Rev. John Algera, an anti-crime activist and pastor of Madison Avenue Christian Reformed Church. “For every shooting that takes place, you have the same group of detectives handing them. It enables them to focus on the problem.’’

That group of detectives – the Cease-Fire unit – was one of many formed in New Jersey cities in 2006 through grants provided by the federal government. But when the federal money ran out several years ago, some cities disbanded their Cease-Fire units. Paterson public safety officials have kept their intact.

“I believe we’re one of the last ones left,’’ said Lt. Patrick Murray, head of Paterson’s Cease-Fire unit.

The theory behind Cease-Fire is that by arresting suspects in non-fatal shootings police are preventing those criminals from killing someone sometime in the future. “When an individual points a firearm at another individual, the intent is to kill,’’ said Murray.

In some cities, investigations of non-fatal shootings don’t always get the same attention as those that results in deaths. “We investigate them with the vigor of a homicide,’’ Murray said.

The story said Paterson made arrests in 56 percent of its non-fatal shootings in 2008, 49 percent in 2009, 55 percent in 2010 and 40 percent in 2011. None of the other cities surveyed in the story – Atlantic City, Camden, Elizabeth, Irvington, Jersey City, Newark, Orange and Plainfield – reached 50 percent arrests in any of the four years. All eight of the others had years in which the percentage of arrests was less than 20, according to the story.

Paterson experienced a spike in non-fatal shootings in 2011 that has continued into 2012, according to statistics provided to through an Open Public Records Act request earlier this year.

The number of non-fatal shootings in Paterson jumped from 42 in 2010 to 82 in 2011 and the number of people wounded in those incidents climbed from 48 to 93. Preliminary statistics indicate those numbers continued to increase in 2012.

“One of our biggest obstacles is getting cooperation from victims and witnesses,’’ said Murray.

The Rev. Algera is a member of the city’s civilian Cease-Fire team. Several years ago, that group had outreach workers who would talk to witnesses and victims to try to convince them to cooperate with the police. Civilian Cease-Fire members also used to canvass neighborhoods after shootings to try to help authorities find people who saw what happened, said Algera.

With the loss of its outreach workers, the civilian Cease-Fire team has done less work on specific shootings and instead focused its efforts on community anti-violence initiatives like peace marches and public information campaigns.

Algera credited Murray and his staff with working hard to build ties with neighborhood residents. “They really reach out to the community,’’ Algera said. “I have seen them value the community’s involvement like no other police experience I’ve had.’’’

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Upcoming Events

Fri, February 23

Memorial Hall, Paterson

Cost Free Courses


Sat, March 3, 12:00 PM

The Bethwood, Totowa

Have-A-Heart Tricky Tray

Food & Drink Giving Back

City Council Candidate to Voters: Let Your Voice Be Heard

February 20, 2018

Dear Editor:

It is very important for the citizens of Paterson to participate in local city-wide elections because elected officials can help determine the economic, educational and social well-being of entire communities. For example, two very important tasks of city council members include making laws and allocating money.

Elected officials are the gatekeepers for millions of dollars in ...

Dreams for Service Dog for Autistic Montville Resident Become Reality

February 22, 2018

MONTVILLE, NJ - Faith Stanley, a Towaco resident and a single mother of four boys, sought help for her youngest son, Joey, who is almost three years old and diagnosed with autism. Amazingly enough, Faith found the help she needed!

Due to the generosity and help of so many people, Faith has managed to reach her goal of raising ...

Paterson Hosts Statewide Event as National El Sistema Leader

February 22, 2018

PATERSON—On March 10, nearly 300 students from seven New Jersey immersive ensemble music learning programs will converge in Paterson for the 4th annual Fiddlefest and Falala Festival. A day of music making and a celebration of culture and community for both the students and their families, the festival features the Paterson-based program Paterson Music Project (PMP), in addition to the New ...

How to Talk with Kids About the Florida Shooting

February 15, 2018

The tragedy of the Florida school shooting is devastating, leaving 17 killed and 15 injured. Our children can easily identify with what occurred yesterday. It will be the topic of conversation today in schools everywhere. School administrators are doing all they can to provide support and guidance. The shootings affect children, teachers, and school personnel. The school shooting ...