Camden, New Jersey, one of the most crime-ridden cities in America, announced today that it would be laying off half of its police force and closing a third of the city’s fire stations.
Mayor Dana Redd said Camden’s nearly $27 million budget deficit precipitated the layoffs, as she was unable to secure the $8 million required to keep the municipal workers’ jobs. The layoffs, she said, are effective immediately.
A Redd spokesperson said public safety “will remain our top concern,” but police and fire officials believe that, with hundreds fewer police officers patrolling Camden’s streets and less firemen fighting fires, that will be impossible.
"It's absolutely, physically impossible to cover the same amount of ground in the same amount of time with less people," said John Williamson, the president of Camden’s Fraternal Order of Police, adding that without a doubt he believes response times will be slower. But Redd said she’s already demoted some clerical officers to get them back on the streets and making up for the losses.
Time will tell if Redd’s plan works, but some residents are already worried about what this will mean for the safety of their homes and themselves.
“I don't want to be a pessimist,” resident David Brown told CNN, “but I can’t be optimistic.”