The Jersey City Police Department (JCPD) is still awaiting its final crime numbers for December 2012, which will enable the department to have its yearly numbers certified by the state. But the department is touting drops in several major crime categories for last year.
Homicides went down in 2012, a year in which crime once again became a major issue in the city for many residents. There were 13 murders in the city last year, the lowest number of homicides since such records were first compiled in 1969.
Auto theft dropped by about 8 percent, and there was a slight dip in robbery as well.
There were some increases in other crime categories, however. Aggravated assault and burglary each went up by about 3 percent.
“I think burglaries went up because during the first two days of the blackout [during Hurricane Sandy, which hit in late October and early November], there was some looting,” said JCPD spokesman Stan Eason last week.
Healy said gun violence in the U.S. is a “federal plague that requires a federal cure.”
“Of course, even one homicide is one homicide too many,” Healy said. “But we want the public to know that our Police Department and their leadership are working hard out there and they’re getting…results.”
Final certification of the city’s 2012 crime numbers won’t come until March, Comey said.
Gun buyback nets 164 weapons
The gun buyback held on Jan. 5 was the latest in a series of gun buybacks the Healy administration has sponsored since 2005.
For the buyback held last weekend at Evangelismos Greek Orthodox Church, residents could turn in rifles for $100 each. Handguns and automatic weapons fetched $150, with no questions asked.
The cash for weapons program was made possible with the help of forfeiture funds from the Office of the Hudson County Prosecutor and donations from local corporations and private citizens. Approximately $20,850 was made available for the buyback on Jan. 5, none of which came from taxpayer dollars. The JCPD officers who took possession of the weapons on Jan. 5 volunteered their time and were off duty for the buyback.
Healy called for the most recent gun buyback in response to the school shooting in Newtown, Conn.
According to Chief Comey, a total of 164 firearms were turned in, including 93 handguns and an assault rifle.
Previous gun buybacks took a total of 1,297 handguns, rifles, and assault weapons off the streets of Jersey City. Like the city’s previous gun buybacks, this one had an amnesty program, meaning that people who turn in weapons were not questioned or prosecuted for any crimes connected with the weapon they turn in.
“There’s been a lot of debate about do they work,” Comey said of gun buybacks. “I’ve always equated it to something that you cannot quantify. It’s a fork in the road. We’ve gone to the right. You never know what the road to the left could have led to. These are 164 weapons that don’t have the opportunity to go down any other [roads]. They’re going to be destroyed. So, for us to say gun buybacks don’t work would be irresponsible.”
Adding that he supports the Second Amendment of the Constitution and “responsible gun ownership,” Comey said, “We have to get legislatures to finally talk about gun violence. Some of these weapons don’t end up in the hands of responsible people.”
Healy, a charter member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, added that gun violence is a “federal plague that requires a federal cure.”
E-mail E. Assata Wright at email@example.com.