Three fatal shootings in the last two days pushed Newark's homicide total to 29 this year, a 71 percent jump in killings compared with the same period in 2010, as violent crime surges following police layoffs, the Newark Star-Ledger reports. Several of the most recent slayings claimed the lives of innocent bystanders, including a 49-year-old man who was shot several times outside of a chicken restaurant late on Easter Sunday.
Newark has suffered steady increases in violent crime and property crime since the city laid off 167 police officers in November. Police union leaders, who have frequently criticized the administration of Mayor Cory Booker since the layoffs, were quick to blame the crime spike on a lack of manpower. “I think it just comes down to the people on the street. The bad guys know we're not out there, and it has an effect on how they operate,” said James Stewart Jr., vice president of Newark's Fraternal Order of Police. “That's why the shootings have increased dramatically, that's why the homicides are up.”