As reported previously, during our visit to Camden, we found that the residents are living in a police state. The residents we interviewed described how they were constantly harassed by the police merely for hanging out. Earlier this year the Camden police were accused of terrorizing the neighborhood and were found to have been conducting illegal searches and planting drugs on innocent people.
In Newark, allegations of police brutality have abounded for the past few years. Officers have been accused of shaking down drug dealers, The ACLU has made the charge that police misconduct is rampant in Newark.
This past week Camden has announced plans to lay off 213 police officers, leaving 162 officers still on the force. After the layoff, this equates to 18.4 officers per square mile of land and 2.1 officers for every 1,000 residents.
Newark is laying off 167 officers, leaving 1,098 officers on the force. After the layoff, this equates to 46.1 officers per square mile of land and 3.9 officers for every 1,000 residents.
Some people are upset that these crime ridden cities will get worse without a large police presence. Today, Dr. Michael Riccards, reports on a 2008 study that found that increased police presence does not decrease crime. His article summarizes the conclusions found in The New Blue Line:
- Increasing the number of police does not necessarily reduce crime rates or raise the proportion of crimes solved. Once a certain threshold of coverage has been reached – presumably long since passed in the United States – increments of money and personnel are no longer efficacious;
- Random motorized patrolling does not reduce crime nor improve chances of catching suspects;
- Two-person patrol cars are no more effective than one person cars in reducing crime or catching criminals.
- Saturation patrolling does reduce crime, but only temporarily;
- Major crimes that are most frightening (murder, robbery, burglary, rape, homicide ) are rarely encountered by police on patrol;
- Improving response time to emergency calls has no effect on making arrests, and
- Crimes are not solved through criminal investigation conducted by police departments but by some people identifying criminals.
Despite this study, Dr. Riccards reaches the conclusion that "increased police presence is reassuring to the civilian population, especially in this time of random terrorist threats that are so highly publicized". He ignores the fact that the threat from terrorist acts is highly exaggerated and statistically of no threat to Americans.
The biggest factor of the cause of crime in both of these cities is the drug war. The war on some drugs is what keeps criminals involved in the manufacture and distribution of drugs in business. Like the prohibition of alcohol in the 1920's, current day prohibition provides criminals the ability to make large profits off of illegal drugs. Ending prohibition would put an end to most of the crime in our inner cities.
Whether or not these cities will be more dangerous or safer with the reduction of police presence is to be seen. One thing is for sure, their bloated budgets will be slightly less bloated.