Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Adventures in Dangerous Budget Cuts: Camden Edition

Posted By on Wed, Jan 19, 2011 at 11:00 AM

Camden, New Jersey has some serious problems. They have the second worst crime rate of an American city, but also they're $26.5 million in the red. So, how do you keep a city safe and balance the books? We'll see, I suppose:

The mayor of crime-ridden Camden, New Jersey, has announced layoffs of nearly half of the city's police force and close to a third of its fire department.

One hundred sixty-eight police officers and 67 firefighters were laid off Tuesday, as officials struggle to close a $26.5 million budget gap through a series of belt-tightening measures, Mayor Dana Redd told reporters. The layoffs take effect immediately.

Redd said she was unable to secure the $8 million in budget concessions that she says she needed to save the jobs of up to 100 police officers and many of the city's firefighters.

[...]

"It's absolutely, physically impossible to cover the same amount of ground in the same amount of time with less people," said John Williamson, president of the Fraternal Order of Police union in Camden. "Response times will be slower."

One local business owner, David Brown, said he does not "understand how you can do more with less."

"I don't want to be a pessimist, but I can't be optimistic."

[CNN]

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