During Cory Booker's first year as Newark's mayor, in 2006, there were 107 murders in his city. By 2009, that number was down to 68. That 36 percent drop in homicides helped establish the reputation that has propelled Booker to national prominence.
Newark mayor Cory Booker
In 2010, however, 167 Newark police officers were laid off, a 13 percent drop in the force. City and state budget problems were the reason, of course. The murder rate jumped to 90 that year. There would be 96 in 2011 and 92 in 2012.
This year--Booker's last in city hall before he potentially relocates to the Senate chambers in D.C.--was looking better. The city remains on pace for less homicides this year than in each of the past three.
The past two weeks, however, brought Newark's public safety challenges back to the front pages. And after three years, the cuts to the police budget produced a sad crescendo: In a 10 day stretch, from Monday August 26 to Wednesday September 4, there were 10 homicides in the city, as well as three more non-fatal shootings and one non-fatal stabbing.More »