A police officer accused of collaborating with a New Jersey drug ring recently made his first appearance in federal court in Newark. The officer allegedly used his influence as a law enforcement agent to escort traffickers through airport security and to conceal weapons in luggage. He has been charged with drug trafficking and making illegal money transactions, and is currently free on $500,000 bail. For his part, the officer maintains his complete innocence, and his lawyer says the drug distribution allegations against his client were fabricated by members of the drug ring looking to trade information for lighter sentences.

This is just one example of the recent New Jersey crackdown on crime, particularly drug and gun crime. Whatever the reality, some officials are worried that crime is getting out of hand, and are taking heavy-handed steps to curb the perceived problem. One of these steps is an initiative that will send dozens of additional police officers pouring into the streets of Newark.

More than $2 million dedicated to funding the TIDE-TAG program

On April 16, New Jersey State Troopers began patrolling Newark pursuant to the “TIDE-TAG” program. In announcing the program, acting Attorney General John Hoffman said that not only would New Jersey State Troopers be supplementing the law enforcement presence in Newark throughout the summer, but that TIDE-TAG would mean tougher sentences for those convicted of crimes involving guns.

A similar program was launched last year in Trenton beginning in late July. Officials touted it as a great success, as there were 29 homicides in the city during the first nine months of the year, and eight in the three months after the initiative put additional officers on the streets. Of course, 29 divided by three puts the average at only a little over nine for each of the first three quarters of the year, meaning that strictly based on averages, there was only one less homicide than might have been expected after the launch of the program, not to mention that crime rates typically decline as colder weather approaches anyway.

It is no surprise to anyone that officials behind a program with their reputations and millions in funding at stake frame the numbers to their advantage. The TIDE-TAG program will be funded with $2.2 million in grants, state funds and money seized in criminal forfeitures.

The increased law enforcement presence focusing specifically on drug and gun offenses will mainly be in Newark. However, the enhanced sentencing structure for crimes committed with the use of a firearm is an aspect of TIDE-TAG that will be applicable throughout Essex County. According to the state’s acting Attorney General, even under plea deals this enhanced sentencing scheme would mean a three and a half year term of confinement for aweapons charge, and for those who went to full trial and were found guilty, it could mean a sentence of up to a decade handed down by a judge.

You can contest criminal accusations with the help of a lawyer

On April 10, a man who had been accused of participating in a drug ring was cleared of all charges in a Passaic County case. It is possible to beat drug and gun charges in New Jersey, and with the new TIDE-TAG initiative creating harsher sentences, it is particularly important to do so. If you have been charged with a drug crime or a weapons offense, get in touch with a New Jersey criminal defense attorney as soon as possible and fight the charges against you.

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