April 19, 2014 at 3:17 AM
NEWARK, NJ - For the tens of thousands of commuters that work in Newark, the surge of homicides over the past year has not gone unnoticed. For workers and residents alike, concern over the 111 homicides in 2013, with increases each year dating back to 2009--when there were 79--grows daily.
At a press conference in Newark on Wednesday, Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray and Acting Attorney General John Hoffman announced a new initiative called "TIDE-TAG" that will utilize New Jersey State Troopers, police officers and federal agents to patrol Newark and attempt to "stem the tide" of homicides. After a similar effort in Trenton last year, homicides fell from a high of 29 from January to mid-August, to eight for the rest of the year as the troopers began patrols.
The "TIDE" component of the program will focus primarily on Newark, but the "TAG" program will also extend throughout Essex County.
The program will be funded through $2.2 million in state funds, Department of Justice grants and criminal forfeiture funds.
Prosecutors want to tighten up sentencing for gun crimes, imposing a 3.5-year minimum prison term even under a plea deal. Newark Police Director Sheilah Coley and Police Chief Ivonne Roman both vowed to increase the number of police officers patrolling the streets and to support the newly revived gang intervention initiative "Ceasefire," launched in 2010 by former Mayor Cory Booker after it had proved successful in Boston.