My wife forwarded this article to me just yesterday. Immediately upon reading it, I thought of one of my favorite lines uttered by comedian Ron White: “You can’t fix stupid.” If laying off 167 police officers in a city like Newark is not an exercise in stupidity, let alone morally irresponsible, then I don’t what is. Anyone who has ever studied or taught criminal justice will tell you that the number one deterrent against crime is police presence. Just look at all of the literature that cops use to study for promotional exams – it’s in there over and over.
“Our city has grown too strong in recent years to allow levels of violence to increase to where they were in 2006 and before. … We will continue to employ innovative policing measures to ensure that Newark will not accept anything less than strength, peace and security.” That was the statement that was made by Esmeralda Cameron Diaz, a spokeswoman for the city administration.
Ms. Diaz, you can be as innovative as you like. You need the manpower to implement these so-called innovative police measures. By innovative measures, I can only assume that she is referring to something similar to COMPSTAT. Developed by Jack Maple of the New York City Transit Authority Police Department, it was credited with reducing crime in the subways by 27 per cent. Originally called Charts of the Future, it was reluctantly incorporated into the New York City Police Department by Commissioner Bill Bratton.
(Speaking of Jack Maple, he was a Lieutenant with a bit of an eccentric flair. He would wear bow ties and bowlers and hold court at Trader Vic’s in the Plaza Hotel. As a Transit cop, I remember being sent to midtown Manhattan from the Bronx on overtime, during the days of Code 99. Lt. Maple would be on patrol wearing his ‘reefer’ coat and white dress gloves. He was featured in New York magazine in that eccentric getup, bowler hat and all.)
Anyway, in order for COMPSTAT to be viable, you need to have the manpower to deploy to these ‘trouble spots’. Let’s say robberies are up in Midtown, you flood Midtown with a lot of cops, but without leaving other areas of the city vulnerable.
It’s no surprise to me that Newark’s crime rate has risen dramatically. All the right variables are present. A shortage of police officers. A bad economy – crime always increases during bad economic times. And a department where morale must be really low. It’s not a coincidence that productivity is down. And contrary to what James Stewart Jr, vice president of Newark’s Fraternal Order of Police says, I do not believe that this is solely because the cops are running from job to job. How or why would you want to give more that you have to when you could be the victim of the next series of layoffs?
That’s not to say the cops in Newark won’t come running if the shit hits the fan. They will, that’s what cops always do. But cops are human beings with families and responsibilities, and feelings. They resent what the city of Newark has done to their ranks, and they fear what it will do to them. Good luck getting your summons numbers up.
And who really suffers at the administration’s stupidity? The residents of the city of Newark who rely and need their police to keep them safe.