Trenton is one of many New Jersey cities that laid off police officers to balance the budget. More than 100 cops were let go in the capital city last month. There are growing concerns that it’s allowing crime to spread.
Joey Festa, a longtime Trenton barber whose shop is just a couple of blocks from the State House, said that he is concerned about the reduction in police manpower. But, he said, it’s not hurting his business.
“We got stand-up people in my shop. They’re coming regardless, but it would be much more helpful if we had more policemen,” Festa said. “A lot of people will not come in town for that reason.”
Just around the corner at the Settimo Cielo restaurant, general manager Henry Mendez said business is down about 30 percent because of safety concerns resulting from the police layoffs.
“Fewer people are coming to dine with us,” Mendez said. “I’m very concerned because if things keep like that most likely we’re going to go out of business.”
Reductions in the police force are also causing some anxiety for New Jersey state employees.
“Their parking is often remote, so they’re walking a distance from the job to their parking areas,” said Tony Miskowski, secretary of Local 1033 of the Communications Workers of America, which represents state workers.
“Now with the layoff of police, the danger level has heightened. You merely have to go blocks away and you hear of shootings, stabbings,” he said.
A police spokesman said the crime rate in Trenton increased 25 percent last month, but notes the numbers have been volatile lately. Since January, crime in Trenton is down about 1 percent.