City Hall has submitted a report to the state so they may start the process of laying off up to 82 police officers in order to save up to $8 million in the 2011 city budget. However, Mayor Jerramiah Healy said he hopes the city and the police union can come to some kind of an agreement on givebacks to avoid that many layoffs.
The City Council will likely see discussion of the issue at the council meeting on Dec. 13.
The request to Trenton took place last week after negotiations between the city and the police broke down regarding ways to save money in the police department budget, according to City Hall.
“We are hoping that we can still come to an agreement with the union.” – Mayor Jerramiah Healy
The report showed that for Jersey City, the amount of overall incidents decreased by 20 percent, from 9,913, in 2008 to 7,920 in 2009.
Police officers came to the last City Council meeting, a week ago Tuesday, and warned that eliminating the officers could increase crime numbers for the future.
“It’s a reality of these tough economic times that layoffs have to be on the table,” Police Chief Thomas Comey said at the time, lamenting the plan nevertheless. He said the decrease in crime is a “credit to the fine work by the men and women of the police force.”
Police officers were in full force at the meeting to protest the layoffs, which would eliminate most officers with three years’ experience or less.
Officer Nathan Montanez said, “If these officers are furloughed and they leave for other employment, then the knowledge and experience the department has paid for has been lost forever.”
Details of plan
Aside from the police layoffs, seven civilian employees would be laid off, and 12 superior officers would be demoted.
In a press release on Wednesday, Mayor Jerramiah Healy said, “The first of January is only a month away and with it comes a new budget year, new tax bills, and a 2 percent legislative hard cap on property taxes. The POBA was asking that we re-open their contract, which is a process that could take several months. Unfortunately, we do not have the luxury of time. We are hoping that we can still come to an agreement with the union before the layoffs take effect.”
In addition to these layoffs, the Police Department already terminated 37 civilian employees in February.
“We have begun a restructuring plan that would go into effect on the 1st of January to minimize the impact in the services we provide,” said Comey.
The state has 30 days to review the layoff plan and make a decision.
Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at email@example.com.