PATERSON, NJ - Neighborhoods set to gather Tuesday to mark National Night Out will do so with the dark pall of two men shot dead in less than 24 hours cast over them.
However, despite calls from some in the community, Mayor Andre Sayegh refuses to cancel the events used annually and nationwide to celebrate efforts to eradicate gun violence.
“We will not succumb to fear,” Sayegh said at a city hall press conference Tuesday. Flanked by nearly a dozen members of the Paterson Police Department, as well as three city council members and three members of the local clergy, Sayegh announced his approval of a new plan to combat the onslaught of violence.
“In 2018 we saw a 50 percent reduction in murders,” he said, adding that so far in 2019 there have been seven, just five short last year’s total. “That’s seven too many. One lost life is tragic.”
Referring to the plan as “evidence based policing,” Public Safety Director Jerry Speziale said that for the next seven days, initially, uniformed patrol officers will team with members of the Emergency Response Team and the CeaseFire Unit, all engaged in “rigorous crimefighting” where the recent violence has occurred.
The police, however, can not end the violence on their own, Captain Patrick Murray said, a message that would be reiterated by speakers after him.
“You can help us in your neighborhood,” 4th Ward Councilwoman Ruby Cotton said in a call for support from the community. “You know what’s happening on your block, you know what’s right and what’s wrong.”
“This is serious,” Council President Maritza Davila said before giving praise to members of the Paterson Police Department for their consistent efforts. Urging residents to speak up if they know of potential offenders she said that “if we keep our mouths shut the fault is with us.”
Serving as the final speaker was Councilwoman Lillisa Mimms who concluded by saying the shootings must stop. “Another life lost is another day of safeness for Paterson.”
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