Booker Crime Claims Strangle Truth

Newark Mayor Cory Booker enjoys a laugh at remarks from Republican Gov. Chris Christie in this file photo, but his campaign's effort to gloss over rising crime rates are no joking matter.

Newark Mayor Cory Booker enjoys a laugh at remarks from Republican Gov. Chris Christie in this file photo, but his campaign’s effort to gloss over rising crime rates are no joking matter.

STATE — Newark experienced a 43 percent increase in the murder rate from 2008 to 2012, according to the latest State Police report, a fact conflicting with the story coming out of Mayor Cory Booker’s campaign for the US Senate.

According to State Police, 67 people were slain in the city in 2008, but that number jumped to 96 last year — an increase over 40 percent that places killings back at level they were the year before Booker became mayor. There were 97 murders in the city in 2005.

When Booker won a seat on the Newark City Council in 1998, there were just 64 murders, and 65 victims were slain in 2002 — the year he failed in his first bid for the mayor’s office.

Getting caught in fudging the facts appears to have only emboldened the Booker campaign.

“First, you are wrong about the crime statistics,” said campaign spokesperson Kevin Griffis in an email. “There have, of course, been fluctuations from year to year, but compared to 2006 when Mayor Booker took office, crime is down across the board – that despite being forced to cut police because of the recession.”Only 20.6 percent of violent crime cases were cleared, according to State Police, who also said more than 90 percent of all crimes in Newark went unsolved in 2012.

Taking a longer view, there has been an average of 91 homicides during each year Booker has been mayor (2006 through 2012), compared with an average of only 77 murders annually during the previous seven year period (1999 through 2005).

Claims that Booker was successful in making the city safer are largely without merit but not beyond explanation.

On May 9, 2011 the federal Department of Justice began investigating claims that brutality, baseless searches, intimidation and false arrests had become commonplace under Booker’s leadership.

The kind of alleged police brutality could account for the suppression of some crimes, but statistics are also subject to manipulation or error.

In one case, Newark police failed to locate a body when they responded to calls of a shooting, but a passerby reported a dead woman slumped over in a parked car the next morning.

Booker also appears to be off base in claiming a 27 percent reduction in gun violence in the city. In 2012, 475 people were assaulted by guns in Newark, up from 415 in 2011, according to the State Police.

Booker laid off 160 officers in 2010, or about 14 percent of the city’s police force at the time, but claims that Booker made a dramatic difference in public safety are simply not supported by facts.

There were more murders and fewer rapes on an annual average, comparing periods before and during his administration.

Robberies held steady, averaging 1,522 each year during Booker’s tenure compared with 1,538 for the six years immediately before he took office.

Aggravated assaults averaged 1,462 in the five years before Booker became mayor and under his administration that number fell to 1155, but the number of simple assaults in 2012 increased to 3,278, up more than four percent over the 3,142 reported in 2011.

Finally, Newark and the rest of the nation experienced a 20 year record of reduction in crime. Crime rates had been in decline for at least 16 years when Booker got elected, but those figures appear to have rebounded.

In 1990 there were 45,162 crimes, of which 10,912 were violent and in 2000 there were 20,705 crimes, of which 4,182 were violent; but by 2010 there were 13,199 crimes, of which 2,974 were violent.

Stated another way, the crime rate of 52.4 in 2011, was up from 47.6 in 2010, from 58.0 in 2005, from 75.7 in 2000, from 157.3 in 1995, and from 164.1 in 1990.

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