Police in five New Jersey cities where departments have had extensive layoffs are making fewer arrests for minor crimes — a trend the Associated Press says experts fear could lead to a rise in serious crimes. Newark, Trenton, Paterson, Atlantic City, and Camden, densely populated cities with major crime problems — all faced with precarious tax revenue and declining aid from a cash-strapped state government — have made deep cuts in police departments since the start of 2010.
An Associated Press analysis of municipal court data shows that after layoffs, police priorities shift: Arrests and summonses of all kinds drop, with enforcement for minor crimes and traffic violations suffering the most as police focus their remaining resources on more serious offenses. Experts say the strategy leaves a troubling gap in law enforcement. “People are committing crimes and they’re not suffering the consequences for it,” said Camden County Prosecutor Warren Faulk. “I think it has emboldened those who are committing the crimes. They do not get arrested, and consequently, they continue committing these crimes.”