HOBOKEN -- The administration of Dawn Zimmer in Hoboken announced Wednesday afternoon that they plan to lay off 36 employees and demote 19 police superiors in order to save $2.5 million per year.
Hoboken’s budget ballooned over $100 million in the past several years. A state audit in February recommended that the city slash positions in the police department. However, the city plans to move forward with other layoffs and demotions as well.
The changes must be approved by the State of New Jersey Civil Service Commission before they can be implemented.
The next city budget is due this August.
The 18 layoffs from the Police Department will occur after 19 senior officers are demoted, the city said. An additional 18 layoffs are planned in other departments within the administration.
"As we make this difficult decision, my administration is committed to protecting the public safety of our community," said Mayor Dawn Zimmer, who said she is working closely with Police Chief Falco. "Through redeployment and civilianization, there will be no reduction in the number of patrol officers policing Hoboken's streets."
Arch Liston, the City's Business Administrator, who has 25 years of experience in public safety, also made recommendations for the changes.
The state police audit found that the Police Department "contained more superior officers than was necessary to maintain essential police services" and that "more patrol officers can be placed on the street" by civilianizing several positions.
The audit which recommended that the superior officer structure be modified from 1 Chief, 4 Captains, 18 Lieutenants and 30 Sergeants to 1 Chief, 3 Captains, 12 Lieutenants and 26 Sergeants, according to City Hall.
But last week, the city’s police unions submitted a response contradicting the report.
Zimmer said the decision is not easy.
"Layoffs create real hardship for employees and their families, and I recognize that this decision has serious consequences for them," she said. "The individuals affected are hardworking public servants who are victims of a fiscal climate not of their own making. This has been an extraordinarily difficult decision that had to be made. We have a responsibility to use our resources more efficiently. By civilianizing non-police functions and moving police from behind desks and out on our streets, we can improve efficiency and maintain the exceptional level of public safety our Police Department has always provided our community."
For more on this story, read this weekend’s Hoboken Reporter, or look for updates here at www.hudsonreporter.com.