Violence, Murder On the Rise — But Not So Much in New Jersey
New crime statistics compiled by the FBI show a mostly positive trend in the Garden State.
Most types of crimes went down last year compared to 2014, with one notable exception: Homicide, which is up 3.1 percent in New Jersey.
Nationally, however, homicides are up 10 percent.
“So although no increase is good, it is down slightly from the rest of the country,” said Timothy Gallagher, special agent in charge of the FBI in Newark.
He said the statistics show there were 363 murders in New Jersey last year, compared to 349 in 2014.
Even as the murder rate inched up, Gallagher said that overall “the violent crime rate for the state of New Jersey is down over the last year, 1.9 percent. That compares with an increase nationwide of 3.9 percent.”
The data shows burglaries were down to 312 per 100,000 residents last year, compared to 355 per 100,000 in 2014, while thefts and robberies also inched down.
The number of reported rapes in New Jersey for 2015 was 15.3 per 100,000 residents, compared to 14.3 the previous year. The increase comes after the definition of this crime was changed in 2013.
According to the FBI:
"The old definition was - the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will. Many agencies interpreted this definition as excluding a long list of sex offenses that are criminal in most jurisdictions, such as offenses involving oral or anal penetration, penetration with objects, and rapes of males. The new Summary definition of Rape is: “Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”
When asked where most of the homicides are taking place, Special Agent in Charge Gallagher said “there’s no hot spots when it comes to particular cities for murders." As for violent crime, Elizabeth, Paterson and Jersey City — among the state's most populated municipalities — are at the top of the list.
Camden and Newark did not provide the FBI with their crime statistics.
“Our data comes from the municipalities themselves, it’s voluntary, so the towns, cities, can choose to submit their data,” he said. “The FBI aggregates it and reports it, however the FBI only can use the data it receives.”
Why is the murder rate going up?
Gallagher pointed out “many factors go into it: population density, economic conditions, climate, education, recreation factors — do folks have things to do in their free time?”
He noted the FBI does not attempt to interpret the data, “we merely compile it and put it out for the general public.”
“We’re working with our local police agencies and violent crime task forces to try and drive down this number,” he said. “No single law enforcement agency is as good alone as when it joins with others.”