On July 4th, 12-year-old Genesis Rincon was killed by a stray bullet in the city’s 4th Ward. On September 15th, a 27-year-old man, Antoine Garris was shot and killed on 10th Avenue. Not more than a week later, several men in Paterson’s 1st Ward open fired on a crowd of teenagers, killing 15-year-old Nazerah Bugg and wounding another girl. BY the end of the week, the city’s death toll had exceeded all of 2013.
In 2011 the Paterson police force was forced to cut 1/3 of its staff due to budget shortfalls. Now, the overwhelmed police are unable to stem the wave of violence that plagues the city.
“I will tell you that we are undermanned,” Police Director Jerry Speziale said. “We have to think outside of the box”.
One of the new policies is a city curfew. However, unlike most curfews that force residents to be inside by a certain time, this ordinance will force 420 businesses on 15 designated trouble zones to be closed by midnight or face a fine of $2,000. Camden and Jersey City have limited business curfews as well in certain areas.
The hope is that with businesses closed less people will be out on the streets and hopefully crime will drop. However, some critics claim criminals don’t have operating hours and shuttering businesses won’t deter drug dealers and gang members from operating as usual. Others say empty streets are scarier than a full block.
While it will be some time before statistics show that the curfew is working the police are saying they have little choice since they don’t have the manpower to patrol the streets. The experiment will be closely watched and if successful could be adopted by other cities with high crime rates.