Violent crime continues to rise in New Jersey.

“We’re definitely seeing a significant uptick in violence and really we’re focusing on the shootings across New Jersey,” George Crouch, special agent in charge of the FBI in New Jersey, said last week.

Crouch said there may be multiple reasons why this may be happening but “you’re seeing a likely shift from the structured national gangs to the neighborhood-based gangs, and they tend to act independently, they’re a little younger, they don’t have any ties to the national gangs so you’re not seeing that, for lack of a better term, maybe the leadership that you’d see from the national gangs.”

He noted urban areas are seeing the most violence but gang members also are hitting the suburbs for carjackings and robberies.

Crouch said violent extremists may also be contributing to the increase in violence, along with criminals who became more brazen earlier in the pandemic when there was a decreased presence in law enforcement in some areas.

To counteract the violence, the FBI’s Safe Streets Gang Task Force is partnering with local officials to identify the worst suspects.

He said the idea is “to use an enterprise investigative approach to interdict, disrupt and dismantle those gangs.”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com