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Slain Officer's Fiancee Warns Against Layoffs

Associated Press

February 08, 2011

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The fiancee of a Lakewood police officer killed in the line of duty last month says the thought of fewer police on the streets makes her sick.

Kelly Walsifer’s fiance, Patrolman Christopher Matlosz, was shot in the head as he sat in his police cruiser on Jan. 14. A Lakewood man has been charged with murder in the shooting.

Walsifer testified before the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee Monday as one of several people invited to speak during a hearing to examine the effect of police and firefighter layoffs on public safety.

“I don’t want to get into politics, but we all know certain changes need to be made to make all officers always safe, extra safe,” she said, repeating a phrase she said to her husband-to-be before he left for work each day. “The thought of laying off cops truly makes me sick to my stomach.”

She said the number of officers killed in the line of duty across the nation recently is unacceptable.

Walsifer, 24, told lawmakers she lost her true love and best friend last month. She said she had the courage to testify only because he was looking over her shoulder. She said she hoped no one else would have to experience such pain due to budget cuts and manpower shortages.

New Jersey police departments have been hit hard by layoffs in the last few months, with hundreds of officers losing their jobs in Newark, Trenton, Camden and Atlantic City because of budget cuts. In response to the layoffs of 60 officers in Atlantic City, the New Jersey State Policeman’s Benevolent Association moved its spring convention from that city to Connecticut.

Some municipalities, including Lakewood, narrowly averted layoffs because their unions made concessions to save jobs. Lakewood police Local 71 president Gary Przewoznik said the township consolidated health insurance plans, saving enough to maintain five police officers’ jobs.

The number of officers across the state is down by 3,000 — about 11 percent — from a year ago, said Jim Ryan, spokesman for the state Police Benevolent Association. At the same time, there has been a spike in violent crime. Homicides rose by 15 percent last year over 2009 levels, the first increase in four years.

In Newark, 162 officers were laid off Nov. 30, the largest reduction the police force has seen in 32 years.

“You cannot take away the youngest, most aggressive officers that you have in this state, or in any community, and expect the citizens not to suffer,” said Detective Jim Stewart, who is on the auto theft task force and the robbery squad in the Newark Police Department.

In the two months since the officers were laid off, he said crime in Newark has spiked dramatically. Compared to the same period a year ago, he said murders are up 50 percent, robberies 38 percent, auto theft 40 percent, carjacking 400 percent, shooting incidents 66 percent, and victims of shootings 118 percent.

“You can’t tell me we didn’t miss a beat,” he said. “We need the finances to get these men and women back to work. It’s only going to get worse.”

Gov. Chris Christie has been meeting with mayors of three crime-plagued cities — Newark, Camden and Trenton — to address the cities’ fiscal woes and spiking crime rates.

“We have to come up with 21st century solutions to this law enforcement conundrum,” Christie said during a news conference Monday. He then went after his favorite target — unions — saying they need to make concessions to save jobs and protect public safety.

In the latest incident of violence against police, a female officer was shot and critically wounded after pursuing a suspect on Sunday night in Paramus.


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  • Images_max160_sq90_max50

    t1401hm

    about 3 years ago

    1754 Comments

    (traffic stop or any incident)

  • Images_max160_sq90_max50

    t1401hm

    about 3 years ago

    1754 Comments

    Hey Jims4, Thanks for the message!

    Just this year, I think I have read three stories of police officers who basically never had a chance. They were shot dead in their cruisers when they were finally found. You know the world's going down the wrong path when people kill people who are just trying to keep the peace.

    I was raised up to believe that if you feel you were wrong(ed) in a traffic stop incident, you should just take it to the courtroom. Now you have random idiots who run around killing peace officers with no regard for the lives that they have taken.

    I just don't understand... sorry...just rambling.

  • 0524001248_0001_0001_max50

    PaulGreen

    about 3 years ago

    482 Comments

    I might be wrong, But I thought Obama was going to make sure that LEO's were going to keep thier jobs when he was elected. I may of misunderstood. Either way, you take law enforcement off the street crime will go up.

  • 063_max50

    jims4

    about 3 years ago

    2610 Comments

    t1401hm...I am not a police officer but have been saying for, hmmm let me see, 45 years, that no police officer should ever be alone in a car! I remember as a kid in Newark in the early 60's always seeing 2 man cars. When we moved out of Newark when I was 11 years old, I was shocked when I saw 1 man cars in the suburbs.

    Kelly. God Bless You...Chris will never be forgotten.

  • 2011_range_day_2-19-10_max50

    USLawman1983

    about 3 years ago

    1572 Comments

    God bless you Kelly for speaking out. Chris will always be remembered.

  • Remember_max50_max50_max50_max50

    rjtefft1

    about 3 years ago

    6 Comments

    Kelly is a very stong woman to be able to do this, there is no way i could do this!!

  • 100_0456_sq90_max50

    115

    about 3 years ago

    24 Comments

    Here is the video from the meeting.
    http://www.app.com/section/VideoNetwork?bctid=781002007001

  • Images_max160_sq90_max50

    t1401hm

    about 3 years ago

    1754 Comments

    Thanks Robocop for your message.

    I'm guessing that it takes time to brief newly arriving officers on the situation. Maybe the officer who is already on the scene does indeed try to relegate tactical duties to newly arriving officers who haven't quite figured out whom the active shooters actually are.

    Officers in pairs can probably finish each other's comments/sentences. They would be able to pick up on nonverbal gestures and the like....

    It's such a tragedy all around...

  • 1979_max50

    Robocop33

    about 3 years ago

    14600 Comments

    t1401hm, studies have shown that the Officer most likely to be killed in the LOD are those assigned to ride by themselves. Studies have also shown that by a large margin those Officers that were killed were killed in the presence of other Officers! What that means I am not sure. Does it mean he becomes less aware of problems or relaxes when others are around or does he tend to take more chances or act more bullet-proof? Who knows. I worked mostly as a single Officer unless I was training a rookie and actually preferred it as my mind was more on my job and my safety. I was much more alert and aware that help was not immediately available.

  • 1979_max50

    Robocop33

    about 3 years ago

    14600 Comments

    Thank you Kelly Walsifer and do not worry, your love Officer Matlosz will always be remembered by us and we will not allow his sacrifice to ever be forgotten. You are a brave woman and I am also very sure that Chris would be proud of you for what you are doing. God Bless.

  • Images_max160_sq90_max50

    t1401hm

    about 3 years ago

    1754 Comments

    I still believe that all officers should patrol in pairs for their own safety. Now I shall duck from incoming negative remarks.

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