Saturday, November 27, 2010

Newark: Violence on the Rise, Police on the Decline

Newark, New Jersey's largest municipality, has spent decades fighting off a reputation for high crime. Newark has struggled with its murder rate, which in 2009 was almost eight times the state average.

According to the Huffington Post, in recent years, more serious crime -- murders and rapes -- have risen in Newark. In 2008, there were 67 murders; in 2009, that number increased 19 percent, to 80. The 52 rapes reported in 2008 ballooned in 2009 to 70, a 35 percent increase. The bad news continued in 2010: as of October 31 of this year, murder is up 16 percent and rape, 9 percent, compared to 2009.

So how has Newark Mayor Cory Booker decided to address the city's 16 percent increase in homicides this year. How about a 13 percent decrease in police officers. According to the Star-Ledger, the mayor's proposal would amount to $2.7 million in cuts that would result in the layoff of 167 officers. The cuts would also include a one-year suspension of stress pay and clothing allowances, pay deferrals and cuts in overtime. The city proposed a $1.2 million reduction in overtime, $3.7 million in pay deferrals and $1.9 million in unpaid work days, department wide.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's massive cuts are now starting to have an impact on local municipalities and it is not good. Although Christie has vowed not to raise taxes local government entities will not have that luxury. In urban areas like Newark, the tax base may not support even basic services like public safety.

The result, a city with a soaring violent crime rate reduces it police force by 13 percent. Newark may be the first kink in the armor of Governor Christie's hard-charging "slash and bury" policy.

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