Two months after Camden, NJ, laid off 160 police officers, city prosecutors have released a sobering report showing a dramatic rise in violent crime in the drug-and-crime-ridden city of 80,000 residents.
Aggravated assaults with firearms jumped 259 percent in January and February compared to last year, and violent crime over all is up 19 percent, the Camden County Prosecutor's Office told the Philadelphia Inquirer. Murders and robberies, however, were down for the period.
"I can't tell you we're seeing an increase in crime because of the layoffs," Thomas Garrity Jr., the prosecutor's office investigations chief, told the paper. "I do know we have the perfect storm that includes a sluggish economy, the proliferation of national gangs, and a reduction of police manpower throughout the county."
Many other municipal and state governments find themselves reckoning with similar challenges. In recent months, mayors and governors have been significantly cutting what are usually considered untouchable services like cops, teachers, and basic medical care. Michigan officials say Detroit must close half of its schools, and officials are debating a proposal to let classroom sizes shoot up to an average of 60 students. Arizona is denying lifesaving organ transplants to people on state Medicaid rolls. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's budget proposal slashes $1 billion to schools and local governments over two years and cuts 1,200 state jobs. California Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing $12.5 billion in cuts to social services, universities, and other programs while asking for a $9.3 billion tax hike over the next five years.
These state-level cuts will trickle down to cities and towns, exacerbating huge budget deficits like Camden's
Answer by tiddliwinks at 10:37 AM on Mar. 8, 2011
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