PATERSON, N.J. — Paterson on Sunday launched a new initiative utilizing more foot patrols on streets of the New Jersey city to zero in on crime and prioritize community relations after an uptick in shootings.
Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh and Deputy Police Chief Ronald Van Kluyve announced the operation earlier in April after the city saw 14 shootings in March alone, the Patterson Press reported.
Sayegh spoke to the PIX11 Morning News on Monday about the new effort to curb gun violence and get more firearms off the streets.
The mayor said police seized about 200 guns in 2020 and have so far taken at least 52 guns off the streets in 2021.
“I believe the increase in gun violence throughout the country is a byproduct of the pandemic, and we’re seeing the shooters are much younger now,” Sayegh said.
In the new program, veteran officers are paired with new recruits for each patrol that is on the ground between 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The mayor said the program is primarily during the daytime as the police have begun to see a number of the city’s shootings occurring during the day.
The new program is in addition to, and inspired by, the city’s “extra patrol initiative,” which runs overnight.
Paterson has made strides recently when it comes to policing. With its officer body camera program and an independent audit of its police department currently underway, officials hope their efforts don’t go unnoticed.
The mayor said the results of the recent census could result in more federal funding for the city, and the ability to hire more police officers.
Sayegh noted that Paterson’s population is about 146,199 people, but if the city hits 150,000 after the census data comes in, it will be classified as a “class one” city.
PIX11’s Andrew Ramos originally reported on the new initiative on April 5: