A day after Newark Mayor Cory Booker announced a layoff of 13 percent of the city’s police force, residents battered by decades of runaway crime and stampeding blight raised the specter of the bad old days, says the New York Times. For some that went back as far as the 1970s, when residents abandoned Newark in droves. That was before Booker, who was elected in 2006, promised to focus on bringing the city's crime rate down, an effort he pursued with early success: the murder rate fell for two years in a row, and one calendar month last spring there was not a single killing, something that had not happened since the 1960s.
But there has been a rise in crime rates this year. On Wednesday, as officers continued to turn in their badges and guns at police stations and the Guardian Angels offered to help patrol the streets, citizens, police officers and politicians wrestled with the consequences of a depleted police force. Booker acknowledged the perception problem caused by the layoffs. Police Director Garry McCarthy said by consolidating or reorganizing departments the city would be able to keep enough officers on the streets. The layoffs came after Booker, trying to close an $83 million budget shortfall, was unable to wrest nearly $10 million in concessions from Newark's largest police union.