Murder, Robbery Rates Up in Big Cities

"I know last year we probably did about 250, 300 guns, from this unit," Sgt. Anthony Venancio , a member of the street crime unit, told ABC News.

The guns were mostly recovered from traffic stops, and by the end of 2006, police were able to slow the homicide surge to an 8 percent increase, but that was still the most in 16 years. This year the homicide rate is holding steady, but city officials say it's still too high.

Finding Hope Nearby

But is there reason for hope in Newark?

The answer might be found in neighboring East Orange, a smaller New Jersey community in the same county as Newark that shares many of that city's challenges.

Yet in East Orange, there has been a 55 percent decline in violent crime since 2003, including 63 percent fewer murders.

East Orange Police Director Jose Cordero summed up his city's approach. "Using a whole host of new technologies, we are able to adjust almost to the minute to potential criminal trends and patterns that are developing throughout our city," he said, "thereby minimizing our impact and enhancing our ability to make apprehensions and ultimately reduce crime."

New tactics include the use of more sophisticated crime-tracking computers, which alert police to crime hot spots. Surveillance cameras have also been deployed throughout the city, which allow police to expand their reach. Officers in cruisers even have access to the video.

"I can use this monitor and take control of the camera and see what's going on around the corner," one officer demonstrated.

And , supersensitive sound sensors were installed around the city to allow police to pinpoint and quickly respond to shootings.

"They have cameras everywhere. It's like night and day. … Things are so much better," said one resident whose street was once overrun by drug dealers and is quiet now.

Newark is planning for a similar overhaul to its crime-fighting system, and hopes to receive the same results.

"This is the United States of America," said Booker. "We as Newarkers have an obligation to show our way out of the darkness. We all have to step up."

See your state or city's crime statistics here, or visit the FBI's Web site for the complete 2006 Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime Report.

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