NEWARK, N.J. (CBS 2/1010 WINS/WCBS 880) – There is concern and worry in New Jersey’s largest city.
Newark residents were wondering Tuesday if their streets were safe after 14 percent of the city’s police officers were laid off, CBS 2’s Pablo Guzman reports.
The mayor of Newark and his police director said even with 167 officers laid off, people will not notice a difference on the street.
“Newark residents should know that tonight. We will have virtually the same amount of people, on patrol. As we had last night. And the night before,” Mayor Cory Booker said.
But that answer was not giving the citizens comfort.
“The criminals are sitting back, saying, ‘Oh boy. I like this. I like this!’” resident Emma Montgomery said.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea because then violence increases because as they’re laying off police officers, they’re also laying off other people, and what do they turn to? They turn to violence,” added resident Morolake Rami Johnson.
One man said things in Newark are so bad, he did not want to give his last name.
“Taking out those cops has made Newark a difficult place to live. Even we have them, and we’re having problems,” “Thomas” told Guzman.
The Guardian Angels said they would patrol Tuesday night to take up the slack. Booker said that was news to him, but Police Director Garry McCarthy welcomed the help.
“I’m absolutely crushed,” McCarthy said, describing what it was like to hand out the pink slips.
McCarthy insisted that man power on the streets of Newark would not change and that the layoffs would not prompt a surge in crime.
“I’m really confident in our commanders. I’m really confident in the people that we have and we’re going to get the job done,” McCarthy told 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck.
While police officers weren’t allowed to comment, the union was asked to accept a one-time salary deferral, overtime cap or unpaid leave days, something the union saw as a violation of their contract.
Fraternal Order of Police President Derrick Hatcher said there is a contract that should protect cops from being laid off. He wants Booker to admit that when the mayor signed it, Booker knew the money would run out — and he would have to lay people off.
“The mayor should put on his big boy pants and say hey, you know it was an error made by this administration. I’m willing to take it on the chin,” Hatcher said.
But the mayor said the budget gap would have been closed if the union agreed to what amounted to $1,500 in concessions per officer. According to the mayor, the layoffs were necessary to save $9.5 million and help close an $83 million budget gap, CBS 2′s Magee Hickey reported.
“These layoffs were entirely avoidable. These layoffs could’ve been stopped at any moment by the union leadership. We could’ve cut the layoffs in half or a fraction if the union leadership was willing to do something in partnership with the city,” Booker said.
“Today is a very frustrating day for me,” Booker said. “They were unwilling to fulfill any of that gap!”
So the mayor said the union had a chance to save jobs, but did not negotiate fairly. The union said that the mayor signed a contract knowing that he would have no money to pay cops down the road. And so, we have a standoff.
The mayor said cameras, better community relations, and better management of resources will make up for the 167 cops laid off.