Trenton police get help in fighting violence

 Acting Attorney General John Hoffman announces the new anti-violence police deployment in Trenton (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Acting Attorney General John Hoffman announces the new anti-violence police deployment in Trenton (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

As the summer approaches, authorities are ramping up efforts to combat violence in Trenton.

The number of dedicated law enforcement personnel to assist Trenton police is nearly double what it was last year, said acting New Jersey Attorney General John Hoffman.

The recent wounding of a 9-year-old girl caught in a hail of gunfire as she walked down a city street in the middle of the afternoon and the shooting of three people at a church during the funeral of a gang member point to the need to prevent further violence, Hoffman said Wednesday.

“I am here to tell the good people of Trenton that, like them, we certainly have had more than enough of gun-toting thugs who threaten innocent bystanders with violence,” he said during a news conference attended by N.J., Mercer County and Trenton officials.

The new deployments include three units to target crime in the most violent neighborhoods and a squad to focus on arresting offenders with outstanding criminal warrants.

Trenton Police Director Ralph Rivera says the increased efforts won’t stop the violence unless citizens also get involved and provide information about gang members they know are responsible for shootings.

“They know who is coming these crimes. They know who is out there, who is dealing these drugs,” Rivera said. “Sometimes, it’s family members, friends, associates, people you knew for years. And they have to decide whether they’re going to come forward — or at least provide that information to us through an anonymous source — and give us the information we need to bring these criminals to justice.”

Authorities say the number of people shot in Trenton decreased by 38 percent during an increased police presence last year. They’re hoping the new deployment will have similar results.

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