Jersey City may follow Newark's lead in police layoffs

December 2, 2010 2:18:52 PM PST
Jersey City is considering police layoffs to cover a massive budget gap.

"It's something we all want to avoid at all costs," Mayor Jerramiah Healy said.

Emerging from a closed door shouting match of a meeting, Mayor Healy carefully explained the yelling to reporters.

"it was about the negotiations. There was some miscommunication. That's what that was about," he said.

A perfect example of just how emotional the proposed police budget cuts have become.

On the line, 82 police officer's jobs, 7 civilian police employees and about a dozen demotions.

The mayor says he has negotiated in good faith with the police union.

"That comment is so disingenuous. He never sat across the table from us and even attempted to hash this thing out," union president Jerry DeCicco said.

The mayor was set to send the proposed cuts to Trenton, but a last minute agreement has the union mulling over this.

Just two concessions:

A week's pay lag, which officers would get back when they retire. That would save 3.4 million.

And giving up a 13-hundred dollar uniform allowance for one year. That would save 1.2 million.

Meanwhile, the police department in Hoboken is also demoting superior officers. And it's re-deploying desk workers to put 38 percent more officers on the street, even with budget cutbacks.

All this follows the layoffs of 167 officers in Newark and plans in Camden to eliminate half of its police department.

Amid all these cutbacks and demotions, Atlantic City on Wednesday swore in 17 officers who were among 60 let go in two prior rounds of layoffs.

They're coming back under an agreement between the city and its police union that calls for each of the city's 300 officers to give back $410.

Mayor Healy watched carefully what happened in Newark earlier this week. "I don't want to see any of that happen in Jersey City," he said.

He says it doesn't have to, but the budget gap is huge. State funding has dried up, but he says if the union agrees to these two concessions, 82 officers will keep their jobs.

Do you have something to add to this story? Click here to contact Eyewitness News.