TRENTON – Senator Shirley K. Turner today urged the City of Trenton to request that State troopers begin patrolling the streets of the capital city to combat gang violence while additional city police officers are hired, trained and assigned to duty.
“People should feel safe to walk the streets of Trenton without fear of being mugged, robbed at gunpoint or shot in a gang-war crossfire,” said Senator Turner, a Democrat whose 15th Legislative District includes Trenton. “People tell me they don’t feel safe for their families and that something should be done.”
Senator Turner said she is calling for the State Police patrols for Trenton after listening to members of civic associations and community groups throughout the city tell her of their fears of growing gang violence.
Senator Turner said she has discussed her request with Attorney General Anne Milgram, and with previous attorneys general as a member of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. She said she was told that State Police only go into neighborhoods where they are requested by local officials.
“I support (Trenton) Mayor (Doug) Palmer’s call for 50 more police officers, but that plan will take precious time to implement with its funding, hiring and training components,” Senator Turner said. “I believe Trenton leaders should get together and advance a united request for State Police patrols now to crack down on street crime and show citizens how those extra 50 officers will be well worth the long-term investment.”
Senator Turner said she advised Mayor Palmer of her position, made public today, and has received expressions of support for the concept from “all four ward (council) members” of the seven-member Trenton City Council.
“This pitch for State Police patrols is in no way a knock on the quality of the Trenton City Police,” Senator Turner stressed. “It’s a call for immediate State Police reinforcements to deal with a crisis in street crime violence. It will also help curtail the growth of gangs in neighboring communities like Lawrence and Ewing townships.”
Senator Turner said Trenton’s avowed intentions to become a hub of historic tourism with its profound role as a “Crossroads of the Revolution” and to attract new businesses and the middle class – all depend on people feeling safe in the city.
“The proliferation of illegal guns must be stopped,” Senator Turner said, noting her top legislative priority when the Legislature reconvenes will be a “Zero Tolerance for Guns” bill requiring full cash bail for those charged with illegal firearms, particularly those used in the commission of crimes.
Senator Turner commended law enforcement officials for the overall drop in reported crime throughout Mercer County. And she praised Governor Corzine and General Milgram for their recent anti-crime initiative.
She also expressed gratitude for the Governor’s enactment of her full-cash bail law for violent crimes, S-643, her mandatory prison term law for possession of community guns, S-2009, and for and her source-of-bail money law, S-2012, as effective anti-gang statutes.
But Senator Turner said she will continue to press ahead next month for enactment of her bills, S-2470, to make it illegal to purchase bullets without a gun permit; S-1756, to increase penalties for recruiting people into gangs and S-2017, to protect the identity in court papers of crime victims and witnesses.
“Law enforcement agencies, neighborhood associations and parents have to work together,” Senator Turner said. “The police can’t do it alone – they need the cooperation of the communities and they need neighbors to help neighbors be truly safe.”