Cities in New Jersey, including Newark and Atlantic City, have laid off police to close budget gaps and to make up for cuts in state aid, but no other city fired as much of its force as Camden, says USA Today. Camden is one of the poorest cities in the nation: more than half its residents live in poverty. Dana Redd, the first mayor since the city emerged from state control, is in a stalemate with police and fire unions, which have rejected contract concessions designed to save the city money. Police Chief Scott Thomson has sent all available police to street duty to keep patrols near full strength.
Redd’s proposal to raise local property taxes 23 percent, which required state approval and which would have allowed the city to hire back 35 cops, failed to get City Council approval last Tuesday. On Friday, the main branch of the public library closed for good. A federal grant will allow $5 million for firefighters to be rehired, if the city can balance its budget.”I can’t say that there is a lot of visible crime or a lot of visible peril existing, but I can say that there’s a feeling of almost impending doom,” says Rodney Sadler of Save our Waterfront, a neighborhood group. “People are afraid.”