Shooting task force pushes arrests up

January 15, 2008 6:51:37 PM PST
A newly formed task force to investigate shootings in Mercer County has been credited with an increase in arrests.

The shooting response team, which began work in October, is made up of officers from law enforcement agencies such as the Trenton Police Department, the Mercer County Sheriff's Office, and the New Jersey State Police.

The officers respond to all shooting reports, regardless of whether someone was injured or killed, which differs from more traditional police work in which various officers would respond to a crime depending on the severity.

Although the team is based in Trenton, they cross into neighboring municipalities to investigate shooting incidents, with the idea that much of the gun-related incidents can be traced back to Trenton.

"The gangs and the criminals don't have borders," said Joseph J. Santiago, director of the Trenton Police Department.

From October, when the team began work, through December of 2007, arrests were made in six out of 18 cases in which a person was shot, compared with the same period in 2006 in which two arrests were made out of 21 cases investigated.

The team also made arrests in four out of nine cases in which a person was shot at but not hit; during the same period in 2006, two out of 16 such cases were closed.

Similar teams have already been established in other New Jersey cities such as Camden and Irvington.