David Giambusso/The Star-Ledger
Jan 1, 2014 03:39 PM
EDISON — As homicides surge in the city he governed for seven years, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker today addressed the killings in Newark for the first time since leaving City Hall in October.
“It’s grievous,” he said at an event in Edison, where he attended the swearing-in of Mayor Thomas Lankey. “Any time you have over 100 people murdered in Newark, it should capture the focus of everyone who represents it.”
Booker oversaw steep reductions in crime during his first years in office, but Newark’s homicide rate has been moving upward through 2013, when the city recorded 111 murders, the most in 23 years.
Booker said he’s looking at several programs to overhaul the U.S. criminal justice system and end the war on drugs, which he said fuels much of the violence.
“I can say as a mayor who has been fighting on the front lines for years, the drug war is an abject failure,” Booker said. “It’s consumed egregious amounts of taxpayers’ dollars. It hasn’t achieved the public-safety aims of our streets, it’s consumed human potential, it is a massive government overreach.”
He said the real answer to fighting crime is addressing poverty and poor education.
“All of these things are things we should be working collaboratively on,” Booker said.
The Star-Ledger reported today that New Jersey has seen a seven-year high in homicides statewide.
“Looking at the whole state, we have serious, serious violence issues,” Booker said.
Still, for Newarkers crime is the most important issue. While the city has seen drops in nonfatal shootings and overall crime in 2013, the shooting deaths have created a perception of fear and increasing hopelessness
“The unfortunate fact is that Newark does not have the policing resources necessary to keep our residents safe,” Jeffries said. “When the city council decided to lay off 170 cops, it set the stage for what we’re experiencing now, and there’s no way around that.”