Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Jersey Experiences Police Force Reductions Statewide

Police Cuts Not Just a Problem in Newark and Camden

New Jersey's slash and burn budget reductions are affecting public safety in more than just Camden, and Newark,

Hiring freezes, attrition, and layoffs have caused municipal police departments across the state 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.

South Amboy in Middlesex County has lost one-quarter of its police force; Fanwood in Union County is down 20 percent. In Edison, which has lost more than 20 officers this year, the municipality eliminated the community police unit, the DARE program, as well as the Junior Police and Civilian Police academies.

Roxbury had 48 officers in 2009, 44 in 2010 and seven more are scheduled to retire in 2011. The Police Chief said he’s working with the township council to ensure staffing levels don’t fall below 40. To help cover the staff reductions, he’s asked for an increase in overtime expense.

Hillside, in Union County, now has 69 officers, down from 77 in July, 2009. According to the Star-Ledger, that’s the fewest officers on staff since the 1970s.

In Mount Olive, six detectives have become four, said Officer Eric Anthony. The township’s department has 49 officers, down from 55 one year ago.

While a reduction in police officers may not itself mean a surge in crime, a look at the big picture puts public safety in the cross-hairs of reckless budget cuts. The budget slashing in New Jersey has not been limited to police departments. With reductions in treatment and corrections spending expect fewer prison inmates and less opportunity for re-entry services, as wellas alcohol, drug and mental health treatment.

Those factors working in unison will inevitably have an impact on community safety.

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