Newark police to increase patrols for summer

May 30, 2011 2:40:37 PM PDT
After a weekend of deadly violence, Newark police will move dozens more officers to the street this week.

It's part of an annual anti-crime push, Safe Summer Initiative, rolled out in 2006.

Newark police said the program was officially slated to start Wednesday. However, Mayor Cory Booker said on his Twitter site that residents could expect to see more officers on the streets starting Monday night.

"We're shifting dozens more police 2 the streets & moving up the implementation of our safe summer plan. Folks should see the increase 2night," he tweeted.

The move comes after four people died by gunfire over the weekend in Newark.

On Sunday, one person was killed and four wounded in four separate shootings in Newark. Three people were fatally shot and four others wounded on Saturday.

One of the shootings happened at the corner of Seventh and Broadway Sunday afternoon. Business owners on this block had hoped to profit from Memorial Day sales, but after the violence, they say customers are too scared to show up.

Four bullets shattered the glass window at Dina Dibon's Discount Furniture Store in Newark. Dina is sweeping up glass and taking photos of the damage. She had to close early because she wasn't making any sales.

"No business at all. People are scared to come," Dibon said.

Van Stewart witnessed one of the other shootings on Sunday afternoon.

"I heard the gunfire. I saw people scattering. I saw the guy who got shot running up the street before he collapsed," Stewart said.

Two men were wounded in the shooting on Seventh and Broadway. The string of shootings comes just a few months after the city laid off more than 160 police officers. Since then, violent crime is up in Newark and business owners feel forgotten.

"Mayor Booker, where is the police? When we need you, you're not here," Tony Rivera said.

The police department itself has not been spared in the wave of violence. On Thursday an off-duty officer was hit by a stray bullet and killed in a drive-by shooting.

Rivera says the suspects in all of these cases don't care about anyone.

"No concern for human life whatsoever. They just sprayed the other side of the street w bullets," Rivera said.

The extra officers being rolled out tonight will remain on the streets until the beginning of September.