TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey’s capital surpassed its record for homicides set in 2013 with the 38th and 39th slayings over the weekend, Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora said in a statement.
COVID-19 set the year apart, with high economic uncertainty, closed schools and police officers facing quarantines, Gusciora said Sunday.
“Youth engagement and recreational activities have grinded to a halt,” he said. “Every police officer who has to quarantine for 14 days is one less guardian on the street, a heavy blow for a police department that is already much smaller than it was just a few years ago.”
Gusciora singled out the supply of weapons used in crimes, particularly those from out of state. He pointed to the arrest weeks ago by state police and Trenton officers of two alleged gun traffickers pushing weapons from South Carolina.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a fellow Democrat, has been vocal about trying to stop the so-called iron pipeline of firearms that flows into New Jersey from states with laxer gun laws along the Interstate-95 corridor. On Monday, he called the record homicide figure “tragic” during an unrelated news conference.
“It’s not a milestone that anybody looks at with anything other than a heavy heart,” Murphy said.
State Police Superintendent Col. Pat Callahan, speaking at the same event, said a law enforcement task force helped carry out the arrest that Gusciora cited in his statement.
“(That’s) eight brand new handguns that would have been on the streets of Trenton had that task force not been there as part of that violent-crime reduction initiative,” Callahan said. “It is a daily mission for us to make sure that we protect the citizens of Trenton.”
By the end of 2013, Trenton recorded 37 homicides, though the previous record was tied in August that year at 31. The prior record was from 2005.