TRENTON – Gov. Phil Murphy said violent crime and shootings are down meaningfully in New Jersey this year, in a television interview just hours before two Newark police officers were wounded by a gunman in the city’s South Ward.

Murphy, appearing on MSNBC, was asked about crime being used as a political issue by Republicans in this year’s elections, in which control of Congress and 36 gubernatorial seats are being decided.

“The other guys play the crime card relentlessly and shamefully it seems every election,” Murphy said. “That doesn’t mean that crime is not an issue. It doesn’t mean that we’re not focused on it. But I will just say that in New Jersey this year, violent crime, shootings, homicides are all down meaningfully, between something like 15 and 30 percent.”

The Governor’s Office referred questions about the crime statistics to the New Jersey State Police, which didn’t respond to a request for details Tuesday.

The most recent publicly available data published by the state police is from January through March of 2021.

“We invest deeply, not just here but as a party, in the relations between law enforcement and the communities they serve. We invest in law enforcement,” Murphy said.

“It goes back to Nixon’s southern strategy,” Murphy said of the GOP’s focus on the issue. “It’s got racial elements to it – let’s just call that for what it is. And here we go again. I feel like it’s a movie that we’ve seen time and time again, and they’re pulling it out again this time.”

Sen. Michael Testa, R-Cumberland, said Murphy “is not focused on crime, and it shows.”

“Gov. Murphy has blinders on when it comes to the legitimate public safety concerns of our families, communities and law enforcement,” Testa said.

“Ask cops if they feel safe when Murphy’s new laws turn police into criminals if they try to stop kids who are openly breaking the law. Ask families if they feel safe with a surge of car thefts, out-of-control pop-up parties, and the governor’s attempts to disarm law-abiding citizens,” he said. “Ask low-income communities if they felt safe when the administration released thousands of criminals onto their streets, some of whom went on to commit violent crimes including murder.”

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Michael Symons is the Statehouse bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com

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