Reported Crime Up Dramatically After Camden, N.J., Police Layoffs


A dramatic increase in shootings and a significant jump in other violent crime in Camden, N.J., since the city’s massive police layoff could be a sobering omen of what’s to come, says the Philadelphia Inquirer. Violent crime jumped 19 percent and aggravated assaults with firearms 259 percent over the same time period last year in Camden, said a report from the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office. Thomas Garrity Jr., chief of investigations for the prosecutor, said, “We have the perfect storm that includes a sluggish economy, the proliferation of national gangs, and a reduction of police manpower throughout the county.”

More than 160 police officers were laid off in Camden Jan. 18 because of a $26.5 million budget deficit. Nearly half the force – those with less than 13 years of experience – was fired. Superior officers were demoted to replenish patrols. The crime increases came after city, state, and local officials launched a crime initiative they say reduced violent crime 2 percent last year, the first decrease in Camden in recent years. Eugene O’Donnell, professor of police studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, said that although the increase in numbers was worrisome, it was too soon to know whether “the sky is falling.” He added, “That’s not a good place to be early in the year. Camden was in a bad enough situation before the layoffs.”

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