ASBURY PARK (NJ.com) – Asbury Park has been grappling with gun violence in recent years, with four out of the six homicides in 2013 involving guns. More than 85 percent of the 91 non-fatal shootings in the city from 2008 to 2013 also remain unsolved.
Despite the violence, in the past 12 months the Narcotics and Gang Unit has taken 144 guns off the street, Deputy Chief Anthony Salerno said. The police department also faces challenges, he said, including staffing levels and not having enough police cars.
Salerno said that before he extended the Narcotics and Gang Unit’s operations to seven days a week on May 15, there was one homicide, five people shot and 11 confirmed shots fired from January to May 14.
Since May 15, there was one person shot and one confirmed shots fired call, he said.
On Friday, Salerno also instructed the unit to show an increased presence throughout the city, particularly the southwest side where the majority of violent crime occurs, and enforce quality of life crimes.
The expansion of the Narcotics and Gang Unit is among several initiatives Salerno has implemented since being promoted to deputy chief in May, including walking patrols in the southwest section of the city, adding a detective to each shift who has had prior experience in the unit and tripling the number of patrol cars in problem areas of the city.