As reported by on February 7, 2011, Newark police have made nearly half as many arrests, issued fewer summonses and conducted fewer inquiries in the second half of 2010 than in the same period the previous year, a decline some law enforcement officials say was tied to hostile layoff negotiations.

A public and protracted fight between the administration of Mayor Cory Booker and union leaders over the layoffs of more than 160 officers severely damaged morale, likely leading to a precipitous drop in production, officials said. “Morale is definitely at an all-time low and I don’t know what it’s going to take to bring it back,” said Derrick Hatcher, president of Newark’s Fraternal Order of Police. “Years ago, you used to love coming into work. Now some guys dread coming to work.”

Booker insists morale has not affected crime fighting, and said it is impossible to link arrest totals with crime rates. “Correlation is not causation,” Booker said. “You can cut the statistics any way you want, but the fact of the matter is there is so much evidence that shows arrest rates don’t necessarily correlate with crime.”

Between July and December of 2010, police made 7,577 arrests, according to records. Newark recorded 14,920 arrests during the same period in 2009 and 15,332 the year before. The public and often contentious talks between the administration and the police union coincided with steep declines in monthly arrests. The largest monthly dip, 42.8 percent, came in November, when layoff negotiations hit a fever pitch. The second largest monthly drop, nearly 20 percent, occurred in July, when Booker first said layoffs would be inevitable without union concessions.

In December, the month after the layoffs were imposed, police recorded just 837 arrests, the lowest monthly total in three years. There were 2,443 arrests in December 2009 and 2,167 in December 2008. Newark saw at 7 percent increase in crime last year and the department recorded 6,717 fewer arrests than in 2009.  

Informed of the arrest numbers, Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert Laurino said in a statement that he would “not tolerate any police officer in Essex County turning a blind-eye on people who should be arrested for criminal offenses.” In addition to fewer arrests, the number of summonses issued fell by 28 percent last year compared to 2009, and the number of field inquiries conducted, interactions between officers and citizens for a public safety purpose, fell 12 percent.