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For Immediate Release:  
For Further Information Contact:
July 21, 2005

Office of The Attorney General
- Peter C. Harvey, Attorney General

 

Paul Loriquet or Roger Shatzkin
609-292-4791

 

Latest Crime Data Show Statewide Crime Rate Down 4 Percent Overall Violent Crime Down 2 Percent; Nonviolent Crime Down 4 Percent

TRENTON – Attorney General Peter C. Harvey today released the 2004 Uniform Crime Report (UCR) that indicates that the overall crime rate in New Jersey dropped by 4 percent compared with the previous year, and that the rate of violent crime decreased by 2 percent.

“Today's statewide statistics show reductions in just about all major categories of crime," said Acting Governor Richard J. Codey. "They are testimony to the skill and dedication of the men and women of our law enforcement community, who will continue working hard to reduce the numbers even further.”

“The new Uniform Crime Report tells us that New Jerseyans continued to be safer in 2004,” said Attorney General Harvey. “The number of murders was down 3 percent, robberies and aggravated assaults were down 2 percent each. The number of burglaries, larcenies and motor vehicle thefts were also down as well.

“Although the fluctuations in crime and crime statistics are complex and can be affected by many factors,” the Attorney General said, “we can unequivocally single out the dedicated men and women of New Jersey’s law enforcement community for helping to make our state safer.”

The annual UCR, prepared by the State Police Uniform Crime Reporting Unit, measures offenses committed during the period spanning January 1, 2004, through December 31, 2004. The report contains data on the rate of reported Index Crimes – offenses which fall into seven significant crime categories, including the four violent index crimes of murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, and the three nonviolent index crimes of burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft. The UCR also contains separate statistical reports on bias crimes, carjacking, and domestic violence.

According to the report, there were 242,444 index offenses reported in New Jersey in 2004, a 4 percent drop when compared with the 252,149 index offenses reported in 2003. The 2004 crime rate was 28.1 offenses per 1,000 inhabitants, also a 4 percent drop compared with the 2003 crime rate of 29.4 offenses per 1,000 inhabitants. Of the index offenses committed in 2004, violent crimes accounted for 30,917 — a drop of 2 percent. In addition, there were more than 9,000 fewer nonviolent crimes in 2004.

There were 14 fewer murders in 2004 than in 2003 — a decrease of 3 percent (392 murders in 2004 compared with 406 in 2003). Harvey noted that one out of every five murder victims was a young adult between the ages of 20 and 24 and that 44 percent of murders occurred on highways or streets, constituting the most heinous of street crimes.

Additionally, in 2004 there were 6,248 arrests reported in New Jersey for weapons offenses, an increase of 4 percent over the previous year. Of those arrested for weapons crimes, 90 percent were male, and 34 percent were juveniles. Law enforcement agencies made 55,814 arrests for drug violations statewide in 2004, an increase of 1 percent when compared with 2003. Adults accounted for 88 percent of those arrested for drug violations, while juveniles accounted for 12 percent. Thirty-three percent of those arrested for drug violations were under the age of 21, and arrests related to the possession, sale or manufacturing of opium and cocaine and their derivatives accounted for more than half of all drug arrests. There were 3,383 police officers assaulted in the line of duty in 2004, an increase of 6 percent compared to 2003, when 3,206 officers were assaulted.

Areas of Concern

The Attorney General expressed concern about a number of the crime category trends found in the report. He noted, for example, that the number of sexual assaults had increased 4 percent, from 1,283 in 2003 to 1,328 in 2004.

Another development of concern, Harvey said, was the 32 percent rise in reported bias incident offenses, with 868 crimes reported in 2004 compared with 660 in 2003. Racial bias accounted for 45 percent of all bias crimes reported.

On a slightly more positive note, the Attorney General indicated that domestic violence offenses dipped 2 percent, from 77,567 in 2003 to 76,109 in 2004.

“Youth violence, sexual assaults, domestic violence and bias crimes obviously remain serious concerns, and reducing community violence remains a priority for our office and the 21 county prosecutors,” said Harvey. “Through a number of anti-gang and other initiatives, we are continuing aggressive efforts to reduce street violence. We are continuing to use education, community liaison services and, where necessary, vigorous enforcement to discourage bias crime. Finally, through awareness, outreach and victim assistance programs, we are stepping up efforts to combat sexual assaults and domestic violence, and to assist its victims.”

The Attorney General said that juvenile arrests for violent and nonviolent crime decreased slightly in 2004. Arrests of juveniles under 18 for violent crimes decreased 5 percent, from 3,672 arrests in 2003 to 3,494 arrests in 2004. Juvenile arrests for all categories of crime, index and otherwise, decreased just 1 percent, from 62,668 arrests in 2003 to 61,907 arrests in 2004.

According to the new UCR data, the 2004 crime rate was down in two of three demographic subsections – Urban, Suburban and Rural – discussed in the report. The crime rate per 1,000 residents decreased by 5 percent in New Jersey’s Urban areas, decreased by 3 percent in Suburban areas, and rose 4 percent in Rural areas. Statewide, August was the month in which the most overall criminal offenses were reported (23,352). February was the month in which the fewest overall criminal offenses were reported (17,172). A complete copy of the 2004 Uniform Crime Report is available on the State Police Web site at www.njsp.org/info/ucr2004/index.html.

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