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New Jersey Sees Overall Drop in Crime in 2020 but a Sharp Rise in Violence

New Jersey Sees Overall Drop in Crime in 2020 but a Sharp Rise in Violence


Police department data shows that New Jersey had a significant decrease in total crime in 2020 but also that there has been a disturbing spike in homicides and other violent offenses during the pandemic.

Crimes of violence have increased, which officials attribute to the impact of COVID-19 on mental health and to the desperation many people feel as a result of job losses and other economic detriment. Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh was quoted in a recent news article as saying, “We’re living in an abnormal time. Unfortunately, abnormal times beget abnormal behavior.” He said more guns on the streets and high demand for drugs are additional drivers of violence.

Statewide, homicides rose to approximately 300, an increase of about 25 percent compared to 2019. What’s more, homicides reached record levels in some cities:

  • Paterson recorded 27 homicides, the most in more than 30 years.
  • Trenton recorded 40 murders, a new record.
  • Jersey City had 16 homicides, up three from a year earlier.

Other cities reported homicides figures that were level or slightly lower compared to 2019. Newark, for example, saw 51 homicides in 2020, the same as the previous year. Meanwhile, Camden reported 23 homicides, one fewer than 2019.

At the same time, nonviolent crimes such as burglary, larceny/theft, shoplifting and auto theft fell significantly last year as COVID-19-related lockdowns and stay-at-home orders kept more people at home and left fewer opportunities for those types of crimes to occur. Newark, for example, saw a 25 percent drop in burglaries while overall crime in Camden dropped 14 percent. Other cities reported similar reductions.

As criminal defense lawyers, we understand that after a year of dealing with the pandemic, police are tired and stressed, and this can lead to short tempers and mistakes. Whatever charges our clients face, we thoroughly investigate the circumstances of the arrest and the police actions taken afterward, including interrogations and evidence handling. We raise challenges to illegal conduct by law enforcement and we devise strong defensive strategies for plea negotiations and trial.

The Law Offices of David Jay Glassman defends clients in felony and misdemeanor cases in New Jersey state and federal courts. We have offices in Marlton, Newark, New Brunswick and Hackensack for your convenience and we can also use virtual meeting software to speak with you. Call 866-221-1270 or contact us online to arrange a consultation.