PATERSON, N.J. (PIX11) — For the first time in six years, Paterson says it is seeing a decrease in both homicides and shootings.  

Mayor Andre Sayegh and police officials shared statistics that revealed a 20 percent drop in shootings from two years ago. For the first time in the city’s history, more than 200 guns have been seized for three years running, with 220 in 2020, 200 in 2021, and 207 last year.

“This is not a victory lap,” said Sayegh. “This is showing some progress in an area where many cities, from Albuquerque to Albany, have experienced a surge in gun violence.”

Even with fewer guns off the streets, city leaders still want to add more officers.

“In two weeks we’ll be hiring 25 new police officers and, after a conversation with our Chief, in April we’re looking to hire 20 more,” Sayegh said.

In addition to hiring more officers, the city also plans to use urban enterprise zone funding for police foot patrols in the city’s commercial corridors. Police also say that this year, they’re working to get a federally funded crime gun center off the ground.

“[It} will allow us to do a lot of the ballistics and forensic work that previously had to go to a state police lab, we will now be able to process those firearms and process those ballistics here in the city of Paterson,” said Detective Captain Pat Murray.

City leaders challenge residents to do their part by reporting shootings and turning in illegal firearms.

“A lot of people could criticize that we’re not doing enough, but I got this question for you: what are you doing to make sure that we are working together?” said City Councilman Luis Velez.