Newark goes month without murder

First time since '98
February 11, 2008 4:28:09 PM PST
Long facing a barrage of violence, Newark is touting new numbers Monday. For the first time in a decade, the city has gone a month without a homicide.

New Jersey reporter Toni Yates has more.

This time last year, the city of Newark had logged 12 homicides. So far this year, they have two on the books.

It's a step in the direction that makes police director Garry McCarthy quite pleased.

"We're very happy," he said. "We're very, very happy."

Just 42 days into 2008, and for a full four weeks of that time, Newark has been homicide free.

"If you take care of the little things, you prevent the big things from happening," McCarthy said. "So when we do enforcement for things like public consumption of alcohol, you don't know if you're going to stop somebody who's wanted for murder."

Newark wrapped 2007 with 99 homicides, including the deaths last summer of three Delaware State University student shot dead in an elementary school playground.

But to go without a homicide for a month hasn't happened since 1998.

"I'm a little bit overwhelmed with all the death and all the murders of our young people," one resident said. "I just hope that this is a new trend."

Mayor Cory Booker, though pleased, says it's not time to rest on one victory.

"It's a building block," he said. "It's no reason for us to declare a success yet. We have a lot of work to do. And I'm much more concerned about the next 28 days than the past 28 days."

They're taking it one day at a time, but city officials certainly want to highlight the progress. McCarthy said shootings this year are down by 50 percent.