In departments across the state, police officers have been laid off in alarming numbers this year. And while many hope to get hired back or find another job in law enforcement, most are collecting unemployment and taking on side work as they wait. One union president has warned the frustration among cops may lead to rioting, but it seems there are no organized revolts in the immediate future.
According to NJ.com, 705 cops statewide have been laid off since January 1st and have been unable to find employment as of yet. Some have been fortunate enough to find work in their field, though they are few and far between. The Essex County Sheriff’s Department hired 7 laid off Newark police officers, but this was only a dent in the 162 that were laid off there.
Cities are broke. They don’t have the money to maintain large police forces, even when police presence is needed. Trenton laid off a third of its force this month when it let go of 105 officers. Camden laid off 93 earlier this year and more than half are still unemployed.
In Camden, the local police union president John Williamson seemed to want to stir things up when he warned of rioting. “Based on my observations and history in the U.S. and in the world, where people feel desperate and impoverished, they tend to let out their frustrations.” He goes on to say that his remarks aren’t “fear mongering”, though he can’t seem to back his predictions with any evidence.
Sure the officers are frustrated—most unemployed are. And how the cities will fare with fewer cops on patrol remains to be seen.
At the county level, however, Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura says his office has recently come off of a 3 year hiring freeze, just in time to lose 35 officers to retirement. He was able to hire 20 new officers and plans to hire even more.
Fortunately, as the number of officers on the streets drops, so has the crime rate in most cities across the country. No one is quite sure why but violent crime last year dropped dramatically. One can only hope the decrease in police doesn’t cause the numbers to climb again.
As someone accused of a criminal offense in New Jersey, you likely didn’t think about the police layoffs before you followed through with the act you are now accused of. You may have acted on the spur of the moment, with little thought at all.
If you are currently facing criminal charges, we may be able to help. Contact our offices today to discuss the details of your case.