Atlantic County seeing decrease in homicides for 2013 - NBC40.net

Atlantic County seeing decrease in homicides for 2013

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ATLANTIC COUNTY -

Stanley Holmes Village resident Freddrick Whitlock has seen the difference.

"I can rest assured when I go back home, my family is a lot safer."

And with the County seeing homicides drop from 29 to 9 between 2012 and 2013, including a drop from 18 to 3 in Atlantic City, residents are feeling a sense of relief.

"It’s decreased drastically and it's a good thing. You don't feel so kind of way about walking in certain areas of town after night. You see a lot more police activity which is a comforting feeling," said Whitlock.

The Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office credits two large gang busts during the year for the decrease in violence.

"Operations like that take 50,60 people off the street can have a tremendous effect on the quality of life," said Acting Atlantic County Prosecutor James McClain.

Police say another factor in the decrease is a strengthened relationship with the public, cultivated through barbeques and other events. Officials say it's working in Pleasantville, where the homicide count dropped from eight to one.

"I get calls, tips. The police department gets calls cause they have the public's trust now and they see us acting on it, just not turning a blind eye to it," said Pleasantville Mayor Jesse Tweedle.

And helping officers take a proactive approach to policing.

"In law enforcement, a lot of this we focus on clearance rate after something happens but a critical role has been to eliminate crime before it happens," said Atlantic City Tourism District Commander Thomas Gilbert.

Even with the decrease in homicides, officials say even one homicide is one too many and they plan to only increase their efforts in the New Year."

"Statistically, one would be great, but that's a life, that's a life taken, that's a family affected forever, so we're not going to be satisfied until there are zero homicides in Atlantic City, zero homicides in Atlantic County."

A goal that officials agree can only be reached through continued teamwork between local, County, State and Federal agencies.

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