Paterson police launch officer foot patrols in city hotspots

PATERSON, New Jersey (WABC) -- The Paterson Police Department in New Jersey has started special foot patrols to better connect with the community.

Mayor Andre Sayegh joined the public safety director Jerry Speziale to announce the patrols throughout the city's hot spots.

"This is good old-fashioned police work," Speziale said. "There's no quality of life if you don't feel safe in your homes and neighborhood, and that's what this program will bring."

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Kori Gauthier, a freshman at LSU, has not been seen since Wednesday, April 7, 2021. Her car was found on a bridge in Baton Rouge, La., after being hit by another vehicle.

Foot patrols allow officers to see and hear things they wouldn't notice in a police cruiser, and the patrols also allow officers to interact with the community.

"It used to be beautiful," city resident Rosemarie Campbell said. "You could walk all along here, don't come out at night, you don't know what's waiting for you."

The officer will be popping into businesses and creating a more visible presence during the day.

The patrols started Sunday, which is when the city has seen an increase of shootings. Those officers are a comfort for Campbell.

"We can use them, really use the police," she said. "I'm very happy. I'm going home to tell my father."

Since January, Paterson police have taken 50 guns off the street -- and that initiative and overnight policing will continue.

And while public trust in police is fractured in many places, Tony Rodriguez, who owns two pharmacies in Paterson, thinks this is a good step.

"We only need extra help with the police presence because it was getting to be dangerous to walk around here," he said.

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Laura Eugene's husband is in the hospital fighting for his life. She says they got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine back on March 6. Eugene says on April 1, her husband started to feel sick.

Officials hope the patrols will alleviate that fear.

"We can't police all our problems away, but people like Tony want to see a presence," Sayegh said. "And we're going to give them that presence."

New police recruits will be paired with veteran officers to walk the neighborhoods, help increase trust in the department, and address public safety concerns.

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