PATERSON, NJ – Police in Paterson and four other New Jersey cities that laid off law enforcement officers are making fewer arrests for minor offenses, like shoplifting and drug possession, according to an Associated Press story.

Law enforcement experts fear the reduced emphasis on minor offenses could lead to a rise in more serious crimes, the story said.

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An Associated Press analysis of municipal court data showed that when police are laid off, department priorities shift: Arrests and summonses of all kinds drop, with enforcement for minor crimes and traffic violations suffering the most as police focus their remaining resources on more serious offenses.

In Paterson, the story said, arrests for charges like shoplifting and possession of small amount of drugs went from just over 700 a month before the April layoffs to an average 545 in the five months afterward.

The story said there have been fewer arrests per month, post-layoffs, for most types of offenses, but the biggest decreases are for the least serious crimes.