Newark laid off 167 police officers yesterday, 13 percent of the force, in a move designed to stem the financial bleeding in the New Jersey city. The city’s Star-Ledger said it was biggest police layoff since 1978. The potential threat to public safety prompted a group of 50 Guardian Angels, the vigilante group based in New York City, to patrol Newark's West and South Wards tonight – their first foray into the city in almost 30 years.
Although Police Director Garry McCarthy and Mayor Cory Booker insist the police reorganization will provide for the same number of officers on the streets, there was much finger-pointing between the city administration and the police union. Booker and union president Derrick Hatcher blamed each other for the layoffs. Booker assailed Hatcher for not putting the city's proposal of $6.8 million in department cuts to a vote of the union membership. Hatcher accused the mayor of hiding the city's budget crisis until after the May election and then blaming the union for the layoffs.