By GABRIELLA DRAGONE
PATERSON, NJ – Mayor Andre Sayegh was joined by Congressman Bill Pascrell Jr. and first responders on Wednesday to unveil plans to establish a Crime Gun Intelligence Center in Paterson. The federally funded center will help the Paterson Police Department prevent and combat gun violence in Paterson and the surrounding area, according to speakers.
“The country has experienced a spike in gun violence,” Sayegh said. “Paterson has suffered as a result just like many cities around the country.”
Although numbering 100, shootings in Paterson are down for the year at the moment, while homicides have increased by one to 28. The City, Sayegh said, has been very aggressive in confiscating illegal weapons, seizing 200 guns this year in 2021.
A Crime Gun Intelligence Center only exists in a few municipalities across the country, with Paterson being the first in New Jersey, officials said, and one of only 25 other cities in the nation to be awarded this grant.
The $700,000 U.S. Department of Justice grant will not only help establish the Center, but also help the City get ahead of the criminals with ballistics and trace where weapons are through case shellings, officials said.
“We are so profoundly grateful to our Congressman for securing the grant funding at this time,” Sayegh said.
“We are here to protect police,” Pascrell said. “This is going to let officers collaborate in real time with federal partners to swiftly track down guns used in crime. This grant will prevent crime, save lives and get violent criminals off our streets.”
This isn’t the first police related grant Pascrell secured for Paterson. In fact, according to a statement, his effort have brought $14.5 million in federal dollars to Paterson Law Enforcement, including $5.6 million in cops programs and hiring programs.
“We owe it to these men and women to deliver funding and resources to keep our City safe,” Pascrell Jr. said.
“This Crime Gun Intelligence Center will be a major game changer for us,” Jerry Speziale, Public Safety Director said who reflected that up until now the Paterson Police Department’s work with the ATF and other federal and state partners in law enforcement has been paper based. “Because now we can tie that shell casing that’s from, let’s say Camden or Atlantic County, to the gun casing I find on the north side of the City. That was by paper…now think of the expedience of this Crime Gun Intelligence Center now working through computerization not even ballistics, you’re going to be tied into every level.”
“Having a Crime Gun Intelligence Center will help us combat the scourge of gun violence,” Sayegh said. “And hopefully reassure the residents that we’re doing everything we can to make sure that they are safe.”