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Surge in violence and police layoffs worry Trentonians

GLENN TOWNES Special to the AmNews | 8/24/2011, 7:09 p.m.

Residents of New Jersey's capital city of Trenton are afraid that the impending dismissal of more than 100 police officers and a big spike in violent crime in the past few months will make life in Trenton a nightmare.

Police have made more than 40 arrests in the past week or two and investigated at least 20 shootings since mid-July. At least 82 people have been shot in Trenton this year-nearly double the amount from the same period last year.

Trenton Mayor Tony Mack last week confirmed what had been rumored for months-that due to a severe budget problem and other financial woes, he would be forced to lay off and/or demote dozens of police officers and high-ranking law enforcement officials effective next month.

Through the remainder of August, Trenton police will continue to implement "Operation Send a Message" and crack down on executing outstanding warrants, carry out random spot checks and conduct DWI patrols. However, the beefed-up law enforcement methods are of little comfort to some residents.

"I just don't feel safe here anymore," said long-time Trentonian Phyllis F. "It's so unsafe, and the crime rate has gotten so bad that you are afraid to leave your house."

One blogger wrote, "Sadly, Trenton needs more cops, not less."