This time they mean it
September 19, 2012
Everybody knows “The School-Board Game.” It’s the playbook response of smug, local-government Liberals, to turn communities against citizens asking to control spending: “Okay, we’ll just have to eliminate band and football.” Elsewhere along the government food chain, it’s “Okay, we’ll just have to lay off police and firefighters.”
Except in one New Jersey town, they’re serious.
According to the real-estate data service Neighborhood Scout, you’re almost eight times likelier to become a victim of violent crime in Camden, New Jersey, than anywhere in New Jersey as a whole. The Camden Police must keep busy, right?
Well, yes…but the city can’t afford them.
Camden is eliminating its police department and entrusting public safety functions to a new metro division of county police. Slightly fewer than half the current Camden cops will be transferred to county employment.
You’ve probably guessed why this is happening but we’ll tell you anyway. Officials say the change is needed to get Camden out from under collective bargaining agreements it can’t sustain, and that it will actually increase the number of officers on the streets.
Friday’s Wall Street Journal reported that police layoffs and budget problems have led the city to impose a curfew—now under court challenge—on most businesses, forcing 11 p.m. closures to curb loitering by young people involved in criminal activity.
The county’s new Metro Division will have a budget of about $65 million, which the Journal reports is close to what Camden spends on its police force now, but reducing collectively-bargained benefits will free about $18 million of that amount—an astonishing 27 percent—to hire additional officers.
Job-related benefits are great—until they force employers to start shedding the jobs themselves.