The future looks even more bleak now for Camden, New Jersey’s poorest and most violent city, which earlier this month laid off nearly half its police force, reports the Newark Star-Ledger. No one knows what will happen next because this kind of civic collapse is new and historic. But the city's 78,788 residents wonder if their lives are teetering, as resident William Sylvester says, on the edge of “all-out hellfire.”
New Jersey's impoverished cities are facing a perfect storm that creates frightening possibilities. Newark recently shrank its police force by 167 officers, Trenton postponed the layoffs of 111 cops, and cities such as Irvington, East Orange and Elizabeth are facing shortfalls that are forcing tax hikes and spending cuts, which are bound to reinforce the downward spiral.