Is the cost saving measure compromising safety?
The police union warned of lawlessness. The mayor said a busted budget left him no choice.
On Monday, pink slips for 125 cops took effect in Paterson, N.J. It’s not clear if the cuts affected response times for the short-handed force, but NBC New York took to the streets with a police scanner to shadow officers as they grappled with reduced manpower in the neighborhoods of New Jersey’s third-largest city.
A police dispatcher sent officers to 245 East 21st St. to respond to a burglary at about 7 p.m. Monday. The first officer arrived at the residence within 15 minutes of being dispatched, but the victim said she made the initial 911 call six hours earlier – at 1p.m.
Ann Vandermeulen lives two doors down from the burglarized house. She says her home was robbed last year and response time was almost immediate.
“They were here in like 10 minutes. Like 10 cars,” Vandermeulen said.
Managers of the police force have tried to minimize the effect of the layoffs by pulling officers from specialized units into service on the streets.
Commanders have declined to give specifics, for fear they might tip off criminals, but there have been reports that anti-narcotics units and members of some veteran detective squads may be called into service on regular patrols.
Later Monday evening, a police dispatcher summoned officers to a home on Belmont Avenue regarding an assault.
By the time NBC New York arrived to the scene, police had come and gone. The woman who answered the door said she had recently gotten into a fight with her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend and officers were just dropping off some documents related to possible charges.
Even the mundane police work continues despite the layoffs.
A dispatcher alerted several units at about 8 p.m. that someone was making violent threats on North 3rd Street.
When NBC New York arrived, patrol partners were on top of the call. It appeared someone threw a television set onto the street in a fit of anger.
They took a police report and pulled off to the next call of the night.