PATERSON - Police are one step closer to enforcing a curfew in Paterson after identifying 15 streets where they want businesses to close early to reduce crime.
As the city's violent crime rate soars, police say they want to cut down on late-night loitering, and many residents agree. "What it does is open a window for drug dealers to go out and sell and more people can do their crimes," says Migdalia Rosa.
The crime hot spots would be the first places police would enforce a proposed business curfew. If passed, all businesses in designated areas would have to close by midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, and 11 p.m. the rest of the week.
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Newly appointed Police Director Jerry Speziale says there is a direct correlation between late-night businesses and crime, whether it's drinking in public, public urination, loitering, drug sales or shootings.
Some business owners think the curfew idea is unfair and don't believe they should be forced to close early since they don't see trouble outside their businesses.
Luisa Rodriguez owns a liquor store on Market Street in a section targeted by the curfew. She usually stays open until 1 a.m. on weekends, and says closing early would be detrimental. "I'm going to lose a lot of business," she says.
Speziale says police are not targeting specific businesses or individuals and that the proposed curfew targets areas based only on crime statistics.
Paterson City Council is expected to vote on the curfew in the coming weeks. In the meantime, police have added 26 officers to the force and have sent mobile precincts into high crime areas.