Jersey City officials say violent crime at historic lows in ’19 despite recent shootings

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Jersey City officials said that violent crime is trending downward, hitting historic lows in certain key categories in 2019, despite an active shooter/bias crime incident and other gun violence in December.

“If you are in a community that has any sort of gun violence, it traumatizes people with PTSD and you don’t want to hear about trends in the right direction if you’ve been a neighbor or in close proximity and our goal is to get that so no one has to live anywhere near gun violence,” Mayor Steven Fulop said at a small press conference at City Hall this morning.

“That’s our objective. We’re moving in that direction and I think a lot of what we show here to date, over the last couple years, speak to that. We still have a little more work to do.”

Fulop noted that in 2019, Jersey City has recorded 13 homicides to date, the lowest figure of his administration that was last matched in 2012. The mayor also said that was the last time that figure was reported in many decades.

Public Safety Director James Shea added that four of those homicides occurred on December 10th, where four bystanders were killed in an active shooter situation, later deemed an act of domestic terrorism/a hate crime.

He later explained that per FBI guidelines, justified homicides, in the case of the two December 10th shooters, are not included in the city’s overall homicide figures.

“… It’s not just that we tied the 13 [homicides], we’re more happy about the overall trend: that for five years we’re showing a decrease every year and continuing to decrease. We believe we’ve taken our average homicides down to a place where we can sustain them.”

Statistics provided by the city show that 2019 has yielded 57 shooting incidents, down from 74 one year ago.

Following a question from HCV, Shea clarified that figure does not reflect how many people have been shot, which are reported in a separate category.

” … A shooting incident means that someone fired a gun and someone was hit. Now, one caveat to that: we’re one of the only cities that includes if you shoot yourself. So in that 57 is several times when somebody carried a gun, discharged it – we believe accidentally – and shot themselves in the leg.”

Fulop chimed in that Jersey City reported 82 shooting victims this year, down from 92 reported in 2018.

In response to unrest expressed on social media by Greenville residents who feel that areas like Downtown and the Heights receive preferential treatment when it comes to policing, Fulop and Police Chief Michael Kelly both said the statistics speak for themselves.

“Let me start by saying that social media doesn’t dictate our policing strategy and I think that most people in most communities would recognize that we’ve devoted most of our resources to the south side of Jersey City: you can look at our budget,” the mayor began.

“If somebody doesn’t agree with that statement, just look at our budgets. I mean that is an undeniable document on where we’re investing our dollars and I think the results speak to that.”

Additionally, at least 25 percent more officers are deployed in the south and west districts, compared to their counterparts in the north and east, according to Kelly.

Since December 21st, at least five separate instances of shots fired have been reported.

Shea attributed most of that to the police department now actively working to prevent any anti-Semitic or other bias crimes that have become commonplace in the tristate metropolitan area in recent weeks.

“It’s an additional burden: we now have to make sure that we have to get people out to prevent against those type of attacks from happening while we continue to keep the rest of the community safe from the gun violence that’s our traditional problem,” Shea stated.

“We’ve seen a slight uptick in our gun violence in December, which I directly attribute to the fact that the chief had to direct, divert resources to this new mission and pull them away – which I think speaks to the success of the policing strategy.”

Other 2019 statistics highlighted today included 280 illegal guns being removed from the streets, 976 active police officers in the department (620 hired during Fulop’s administration), and 212 security cameras installed to help deter and solve crimes.

The entire press conference streamed live on our Facebook page and can be viewed below: