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Newark Sees Largest Police Layoff In Decades

Newark Sees Largest Police Layoff In Decades

(seated left to right) Derrick Hatcher, president of the Newark Police Officer's Union is seen along with Ken Gaulette; Alonso Vinueza; and Jerry Aquino; alll Newark Police officers, listening intently to the decision of Judge Levy during a hearing concer

The Star-Leger via YellowBrix

November 30, 2010

NEWARK — After months of verbal jousting and public finger-pointing between union leaders and the Booker administration, 167 Newark police officers turned in their guns and badges, finalizing the department’s largest reduction in force in 32 years.

Union president Derrick Hatcher killed any chance of an eleventh-hour deal Monday morning when he rebuked Mayor Cory Booker’s final plea to return to the negotiating table, according to an e-mail obtained by The Star-Ledger.

“This e-mail is to inform you that our membership has expressed no interest in re-opening the contract or executing any side agreements with the City of Newark regarding the Lay Offs,” wrote Hatcher, president of Newark’s Fraternal Order of Police, in response to an e-mail from Booker titled “Trying Again.”

Booker wrote to Hatcher Sunday night hoping to revive negotiations that stalled last week when both sides shot down proposals to avert the layoffs.

The mayor had one final sit down with Hatcher last night, asking for small concessions that would have saved 10 officers’ jobs, according to city spokeswoman Esmeralda Diaz Cameron, but the unions didn’t budge.

The mayor said Monday he remains hopeful of striking a deal with the FOP that would bring some officers back after the midnight deadline.

“The city’s budget situation has not changed, and concessions are still needed if we are to consider bringing back officers in the near future," Booker said in a statement. "Anything the FOP can do to help us hit our budget target while keeping as many officers as possible on the job will always be welcome.”

The layoffs are projected to save $9.5 million in annual expense, part of the Booker administration’s effort to close a $83 million hole in the 2011 city budget.

The layoffs will reduce the department’s total staffing to 1,098 and prompt the dismissal of nearly every police officer hired by since 2006.

On Nov. 18, the FOP offered $2.7 million in concessions from the 167 officers facing dismissal and $6 million in pay deferrals through 2013, but city officials said the deferrals were not “true savings,” because the money had to be repaid at some point.

Days later, the city asked the union to accept a one-time salary deferral, an overtime cap and five unpaid leave days to be recouped as time off in addition to $2.7 million in concessions from the officers facing layoff.

The deal did not require the contract to be re-opened, but Hatcher said the language of the proposal violated the contract anyway.

The FOP did not vote on the city’s offer, said Hatcher, who said he discussed the deal with “some” members of his executive board and realized it would not have passed.

Without concessions, Booker said layoffs are the only way the city can close an $83 million budget gap. The mayor has accused Hatcher of playing politics, while Hatcher claims Booker hid Newark’s cash crisis until after the May election.

Many of the officers who lost their jobs at midnight Monday night said they were angry with the union and Booker.

“The union didn’t even let us vote on it. We were stuck between a rock and hard place. Now we’re just unemployed,” said Zack Vonlagen, 25, who surrendered his gun and shield when he reported for duty. “They shouldn’t have even hired us … You don’t buy a house that you can only afford for eight months.”

Alonso Vinueza, 33, another officer who was laid off, believes veteran officers refused pay cuts that would have saved his job. He said he hoped “the senior officers, with their untouched contracts, can live a fruitful life.”

Newark hasn’t faced layoffs this large since 1978, when then-Mayor Kenneth Gibson eliminated 200 police jobs and the city suffered a spike in violent crime.

Current Police Director Garry McCarthy reorganized the department’s command structure on Nov. 11 to cope with potential layoffs, and said the reduction in force will not prompt a surge in crime.

But for 167 now-former Newark police officers, Monday meant they had to stop worrying about the city’s security and start agonizing over their own. Officer Sherri Dillard, 30, sobbed as she walked out of the city’s Second Precinct.

“You’re telling me my lifelong dream is over?” she said. “What am I going to do now?”

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago


    I would like to know what other agencies had cuts so deep. It always seems like the police are the first to take the hit. We had a 12% pay cut 10 years ago and they took a step from us which amounted to a 17% cut in pay. I feel bad for the officers who lost their jobs but I don't think I would vote for a pay cut either. Many of those senior officers have given concessions already and probably can't afford it.

    But the point is I'll bet there are many lazy people who are still gonna get their welfare checks and go buy their alcohol or crack with it. I'm sure they could have looked elsewhere for their savings or at least enough to let half those officers keep their jobs.

  • Photo_user_banned_big


    over 4 years ago


  • Stmaarten2_max50


    over 4 years ago


    BUMP DEPGOMEZ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Grad_08_044_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Lets bring them back and layoff some politicians

  • 1979_max50


    over 4 years ago


    ndgo 88, NOWHERE did I say that Obama is the reason that these Officers are laid off. I SAID that Unions have done much to harm this nation and make it weaker, INCLUDING putting the present administration in office. Let me ask you this, Do you think you should have a union? Of course not, you are in the US Military, a union there is stupid ask you cannot be allowed to go on strike. Police and IF and EMT's also should not be allowed to strike. The president of the union SHOULD have allowed the entire body to vote. Maybe those guys would not be facing a Christmas without a job.

  • Edelys__2__max50


    over 4 years ago


    we hope this situation change...

  • Images_max160_sq90_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Newark is already ranked as the eighth level of Hell. To remove half the officers will turn Newark into Philadelphia PA or Camden, NJ.
    I sense a major drop in house values in Newark's future.

  • Uniphone1_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Sad....Best wishes to the affected officers....God Bless!

    "Stay in the Fight"

  • Me_last_wk_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Thats messed up on sooo many levels

  • Photo_user_banned_big


    over 4 years ago


    Lots of Gunfire reported Last Night in Newark, NJ. Two People getting shot in the leg, in two seperate Incidents. One Incident was around 5:30pm the other around 6:00pm. Shot Spotter and citizens Reported more Shootings during the entire Night. One of the Shootings is not that far from their new $375 Million Dollar Arena. Although there are some great LEO's in Newark, I think Lay-Offs will Seriously Hinder the Safety of the Good Citizens, and LEO's alike. My prayers go out to Both Citizens and LEO's in Newark, I think It's going to get Ugly.

  • Tigerstripe_002_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Wish the media would get involved more. Something like, "Officers union offers up consessions if jobs are saved!" "City screwd officers, took consessions and ran, 170+ officers jobs cut anyways! City streets unsafe!" "pictured, bum deficating on steps to city hall, no Officers in sight."

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago


    Union or no Union, 173 officers lost their jobs! To say that due to the current president in office in part to blame, is ridiculous. Newark has had this problem long before this president took over office. Some states don't allow unions in LEO based professions. I worked for one and we never had these type of problems. Of all service related professions especially city government run, should never and i repeat never look at cutting LEO and Fire Services. I also agree that Newark should be looking a cutting salaries of the white shirts and not the foot soldiers on the street. I am sure their are other gov't funded positions out there that could have been eliminated or minimized to keep this from happening. Somebody has fat pockets and are not stepping up to the plate! Look at what has repeatedly happened in Detroit with their LEO's , they have layoffs every election. Seems like they should all get back to basics and start looking at themselves.

  • Idf_soldier_and_kittyimage2_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Why is there no money to pay Newark LEOs a decent rate? Because the politicians have been stealing the dough for years! It's an open secret in NJ.

  • Img_0933_max50


    over 4 years ago


    As being a LEO in the state of NJ I have way to much to say and it will take sooooooo long to place my comments. If you want to know whats going on here drop me a line and I will fill you in. However I do think that it should have been presented to the WHOLE UNION for a vote. I'm sure mudpuppynj and Horsey can also be of assistance. Please dont think that the officer are are all wrong here, they have a lot of valid points. What one or two unions do can effect the whole state of the LE community.

  • Sfa_iv_max50


    over 4 years ago


    On it Sarge......

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