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Is Crime Really Down in New Jersey?

Statistics report that crime is down in many locations in New Jersey. However, a study by the Associated Press suggests that it's not that the crime rate is down, but that reporting of crimes is down. The reason: layoffs.

The AP study shows that in traditionally high crime cities in New Jersey have experienced extensive police layoffs, with a resulting shift in law enforcement priorities. In particular, these cities have reported reductions in minor crimes and traffic violations, reflecting police efforts to focus on violent crimes and serious felonies.

Some people in these densely populated cities have reported an increase in street level drug dealing, prostitution, loitering, curfew violations and other criminal offenses that are known to affect the quality of life in neighborhoods where they occur. This appears to be a direct result of police paying less attention to such offenses. For example, in 2009 Newark police arrested or cited about 5,100 people per month for minor crimes and misdemeanors. Today, they issue almost half as many.

In Paterson, arrests for shoplifting and minor drug possession are down from over 700 each month to 545 after layoffs reduced that number of officers available. And shifts like this make sense. With fewer resources, the police are concentrating on the most serious crimes first.

Source: New Jersey On-Line, "Analysis: N.J. police layoffs lead to fewer arrests for minor offenses", Nov. 20, 2011.

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