Monday, January 24, 2011

Camden Loses Nearly Half of its Police Force

Camden, New Jersey is rated one of the most violent cities in America and plagued with staggering poverty, high unemployment, and a dwindling tax base. The city of 78,000 people just had its police force nearly cut in half. This month, the police department lost 168 of its 365 officers, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

"For a reasonable-sized city, this is one of the most catastrophic law enforcement stories in the country," Eugene O'Donnell, a professor of law and police studies at John Jay College told the Inquirer. "Camden isn't an island," he said. "Remember, criminals run and manage their businesses in a borderless fashion. If a police presence is reduced in Camden, it's bad news all around. All the adjacent departments are equally threatened."

And so is the picture across the state of New Jersey as Governor Chris Christie slashes state funding for public safety. Hiring freezes, attrition, and layoffs have caused municipal police departments across New Jersey to shrink about 11 percent between January 1, 2009 and September 10, 2010, according to the Star-Ledger. Those layoffs mean 2,228 fewer officers across the state. I wrote about this growing problem recently,

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