PATERSON, NJ – In an effort to curtail Paterson’s crime problem, the State Police this month began patrolling city streets.
Law enforcement officials have refused to comment on the troopers’ work in the city, but their presence has been hard to hide, especially when they recently hovered over a trouble-spot in a helicopter. At times, a motorcade of more than five State Police cars, accompanied by a K-9 unit, has patrolled the 4th Ward, officials said.
“It’s making the community feel safer,’’ said Councilwoman Vera Ames-Garnes, who represents the 4th Ward where most of the patrols have taken place so far. “People are saying it’s about time somebody came in here and did something. When they bring in helicopters, that shows they mean business.’’
“I’m all for it,’’ said City Council President Anthony Davis. “Enough is enough. I’m glad they’re here to help us out. By their presence, it sends a message that crime is not tolerated.’’
Officials would not disclose details on how many State Police officers have been assigned to Paterson, exactly what their duties are and how long they will stay.
“You know that’s confidential, I can’t speak to you about that,’’ said City Police Director Glenn Brown.
State Police spokesman Lt. Steven Jones declined to comment on any mission in Paterson. “We’re in a number of different towns in New Jersey assisting local police with different missions,’’ Jones said.
Councilman William McKoy, head of the public safety committee, said the State Police will help address crime “issues that have gone untended so far.’’’
“Their commitment appears to be for a reasonable duration of time,’’ McKoy said. “It doesn’t appear to be a quick engagement. They’re here for the long haul.’’
Ames-Garnes said she already has noticed results. “Whatever they’re doing, they’re cleaning the corners,’’ she said. In particular, Ames-Garnes said she has noticed fewer people hanging around on some of her ward’s most troublesome spots, including the corner of Governor and Carroll streets, Godwin Avenue and Rosa Parks Boulevard. “They’re not congregating there like they used to,’’ the councilwoman said.
By now means has the arrival of the State Police eradicated crime in the city. For example, during a seven-day stretch shortly after their arrival this month there were six street shootings.
In some cities in the country, the deployment of outside police agencies has been viewed as an occupying force and resented. But council members said they have not heard any complaints from their constituents.
“People are really tired of what’s been going on,’’ said Ames-Garnes. “They’re tired of who got shot, who got mugged, who got robbed.’’