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Christie: Chicago, not Camden, needs Trump's help

Gov. Christie says Donald Trump couldn't do anything more than he himself has as governor to make Camden safer, after an 8-year-old girl was hit by a stray bullet last week.

Gov. Christie says Donald Trump couldn't do anything more than he himself has as governor to make Camden safer, after an 8-year-old girl was hit by a stray bullet last week.

Christie, who last weekend said voters who want "safer streets" should choose Trump, said Monday that the GOP presidential nominee "doesn't need to worry about Camden" if he gets to the White House.

Asked what more Trump, as president, could do in the city - often ranked among the most dangerous in the nation - Christie replied: "Nothing."

Trump "doesn't have to worry about liberal policies in New Jersey," the governor said during a Statehouse news conference. Instead, Trump "needs to worry about places like Chicago."

Camden's homicide rate this year is more than double the rate in Chicago - where Christie said Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel "has refused to do anything about the fact that there's over 2,000 of these incidents in a year."

"It's extraordinary," Christie said, likening crime there to New York in the early 1990s under Democratic Mayor David Dinkins.

The homicide rate so far this year in Camden - a city of 77,294, according to Census estimates - is at least 2.3 times the rate in Chicago, which has more than 2.7 million residents.

Camden has 31 homicides this year, according to a county spokesman. The county Prosecutor's Office counts 35 homicides, including three people whose deaths in 2004 have been reclassified.

The homicide rate is at least 40 per 100,000.

In contrast, Chicago's rate is about 17 per 100,000 - based on either 464 homicides this year, according to the Chicago Tribune, or 467, according to DNA Info.

More than 2,000 people - the figure Christie cited - have been victims of shootings this year in Chicago, according to news reports.

In Camden, 8-year-old Gabrielle Hill Carter was struck in the head by a stray bullet while playing outside Wednesday night. Gabrielle, who died Friday night at Cooper University Hospital, is the youngest person fatally shot in the city in recent years.

The shooting, which police say took place in the 900 block of South Eighth Street when several men opened fire on another person, is unsolved. A $76,000 reward is being offered.

Christie has claimed progress in Camden since the city police force was dismantled and replaced by a county department in 2013. That year, the city had 59 homicides.

The number dropped to 34 in 2014, and 32 in 2015.

Christie has pointed to the decline in homicides as a measure of improvement in policing.

Before launching his unsuccessful presidential bid last year, he touted a 51 percent decline in homicides in the city - down from a record 67 in 2012, after the police force had been slashed due to budget cuts.

Christie wasn't alone in praising Camden. President Obama lauded the city's progress in a visit last year, calling it a "symbol of promise for the nation."

But Christie drew a contrast with Obama on the campaign trail as he hammered on a law-and-order message, accusing the Democrat of fostering "lawlessness."

Amid an uptick in homicides in New York last summer, Christie said in a television interview: "It's the liberal policies in this city that have led to the lawlessness that's been encouraged by the president of the United States."

The governor has since thrown his support to Trump - who on Saturday cited the death of NBA player Dwyane Wade's cousin, Nykea Aldridge, as proof that he would win black voters.

"Just what I have been saying. African-Americans will VOTE TRUMP!" the candidate wrote on Twitter after noting that Aldridge "was just shot and killed walking her baby in Chicago."

Asked Sunday on ABC's This Week about Trump's comments, Christie said that "if people want safer streets, they want police supported, then they should vote for Donald Trump, because that's what he'll do."

Referring to Aldridge's death, Christie said it was "unacceptable in an American city to continue to have this level of violence."

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Staff writers Michael Boren, Jonathan Lai, and Allison Steele contributed to this article.