Major police cuts in Paterson, New Jersey

February 24, 2011 3:42:13 AM PST
There are big changes in store for the police department in Paterson, New Jersey.

A third of the department is getting laid off or demoted in New Jersey's third largest city.

Paterson police union president Steven Olimpio says less police officers on the force is dangerous, and the reality comes Monday.

"I don't care what anyone tells you, it's a bad thing," said Olimpio.

He points to the city's schools as an example.

To save a million dollars, the city removed 20 police officers from 14 schools.

Just nine days later, three students were jumped at an intersection two blocks from John F. Kennedy High School. Two were stabbed, and the other was beaten.

School officers are just the beginning of cost cutting measures.

On Monday, 33 percent of the city's police force will be either laid off or demoted.

That's 159 officers in total. Officials say 125 will be laid off, and 28 sergeants and lieutenants will be demoted.

Specialized departments will take a hit. For instance, the detectives unit in the city will go from 35 down to 16.

"The police union didn't offer anything to help with the financial situation," Mayor Jeffery Jones said.

He isn't happy about the cuts, or about the PBA president saying the city won't be as safe.

"If it's the question of us having a full compliment to do a task, that's one thing," Jones said. "When you have it, if you can't do it. Maybe not having it and being more diligent and vigilant on the scope might make a better outcome."

Other patrol units will stop by the schools, but students say it won't be the same.

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