Newark Mayor Cory A. Booker and Police Director Garry F. McCarthy last week announced that the city has seen the fewest murders in 50 years in the time period between January 1 and May 1, 2009. Between January and May, the city experienced 14 homicides compared to the same period in 1959 when the city recorded only 11 homicides.

The number of homicides has fallen 51 percent since 2006. The 14 homicides for the first quarter of 2009 compare with 17 for the same period in 2008, and 32 in the first four months of 2006. In addition, shooting incidents fell 21 percent to 66 reported incidents in the first 117 days of 2009, and are down 49 percent from 2006.

"These results are tremendously encouraging," Booker said in a statement. "We're in this to win, and for Newark that means a continuing reduction in violent crime, until everyone sees that the city is a safe place again. We still have a way to go to do that."

McCarthy attributed the achievement to a variety of personnel and technological initiatives, including the redeployment of officers to street patrol, particularly from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, when crime is most likely to occur. The percentage of police officers working weekday shifts has fallen from 60 percent to 37 percent since McCarthy became director in the fall of 2006.

A contributing factor to that is the city's implementation of CompStat, he said. CompStat is a method of tracking the incidence of crime and adjusting police patrols accordingly. What started in the 1980s with Jack Maple, then a New York City subway cop drawing up maps on butcher paper, has now spread across the nation with similar programs in cities from Baltimore to Los Angeles and smaller cities in between. "[With this tool] we can study patterns of crime, and develop systems to improve performance, to deploy resources. Good analysis can address crime problems," McCarthy said. "It's a vehicle to the solution."

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