Within months after more than 160 of its police officers were laid off, Newark erupted into a spasm of violence — including the killing of a policeman and one day when 13 people were shot, one fatally. But did the layoffs lead to the violence? And what does the future hold for a densely urbanized state where police face cuts in local, state, and federal funding?
The answer is: No one really knows. But the future looks scary. And complicated.
"There is no data linking crime rates with police layoffs because this has never happened before," says Dennis Kenney, a professor at New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice and editor of Police Quarterly. Kenney, with a doctorate at Rutgers, believes police services will be "greatly eroded and degraded" because of cuts in public spending.