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167 Newark Police Officers Laid Off

newarkpoliceNEWARK - The 167 Newark Police Department officers whose fate the City of Newark and the Fraternal Order of Police Local No. 12 have been bargaining over the last five months have been laid off as of 4 p.m. Nov. 30.

Newark Police Director Garry McCarthy, in a 11:20 a.m. Nov. 30 City Hall press conference with Mayor Cory A. Booker and Acting Business Administrator Julien X. Neals, said that the officers' last shifts began phasing out at midnight. The 167, mostly officers who were hired the last three years, then turned in their firearms and badges to their supervisors among the city's four precincts.

"The 4 p.m. to midnight shift officers did not go out on patrol," said McCarthy from among 40 members of the metropolitan New York City media in Booker's office. "Their last tours were made over three shifts."

McCarthy, Booker and Neals convened the meeting in part to say that they are willing to resume negotiations with FOP Local 12. Local President Derrick Hatcher, in a 12:15 p.m. Dec. 1 telephone interview with Local Talk, said that his negotiators are waiting to hear from their city counterparts for a next session.

"We're ready to hear from the FOP today," said Booker. "We're willing to rehire the 167 officers tomorrow."

"I pretty much said my peace to the media Nov. 30," said Hatcher, from the FOP's Rector Street headquarters. "I'm concentrating on other things while we listen for the city wanting a session."

It appears that either party, as of 1 p.m. Dec. 1, are not making haste in approaching the other side. Part of the quiet may be to allow the rhetoric to tone down.

Booker said that negotiators from both sides had met daily through the Thanksgiving holiday into Nov. 28.

"All we needed were the union leadership to bring our offer to a vote by their rank and file members," said Booker. "Instead, five people said that they had the ears of their members and that a vote wasn't necessary. We reached agreements with the other unions - the deputy chiefs, superior officers and firefighters - who made concessions."

"In my years as an officer and FOP member," said Hatcher, "I've never seen a mayor go to the media in such a large way."

The 167 officers, until Nov. 30, were part of a force of 1,300. The layoff - the largest since Mayor Kenneth A. Gibson's administration pink slipped 200 uniform and civilian workers in 1978 - amounts to about 13 percent of New Jersey's single largest municipal police force.

The 167 are among the 866 city workers the Booker Administration has targeted for layoff on or before Dec. 31. Neals said that some 500 people had been dismissed starting Nov. 12.

New Jersey Superior Court Judge Kenneth Walsh, responding to a Nov. 10 FOP/SOA/FMBA firing suspension suit against city administrators, extended the 167 officers' deadline to Nov. 22. Booker said that his negotiators further extended the deadline to Nov. 30.

Neals added that negotiations remain with the union representing some 400 clerical workers - and that layoffs of some Sanitation department workers are pending Dec. 17.

"Keeping the 167 officers on the payroll meant that the city paid them around $30,000 a day," said Neals. "We're looking at the received garbage and recycling contract bids."

The 866 layoffs - many of which done after seniority bumping and other civil service processes were carried out - were a means to fill between a $71 to $180 million budget gap in the 2010 municipal budget.

Booker said that reopening the contracts came after the state cut Newark's share of financial aid. The mayor added that the renegotiations were also due to the Municipal Council tabling his proposed water and sewer Municipal Utilities Authority last summer.

Booker, McCarthy and Neals convened the Nov. 30 negotiations post-mortem in part to explain that there will be no reductions in patrol level officers on the streets. The lost 167 officers would be compensated through restructuring higher level officers, increased reliance on surveillance technology and more private-public community partnerships.

McCarthy, for example, said that the commanding police officers will be working in the four precinct houses. They will be acting like police captains. The collapsing or telescoping would reach down to the lieutenant level.

Two public speakers at the Nov. 22 Municipal Council meeting said that the collapsing of the higher ranks would lead to diminishing volume of minority officers. McCarthy, pointing to the volume of lieutenants, called the claim, "Nonsense."

While there may be as many cops on the streets as before Nov. 30, Local Talk has found two areas where police business order has changed.

There were two Newark police officers supervising three private armed security guards at City Hall's two public checkpoints Nov. 30. The supervising NPD officer said that arresting power remains with him. There were four NPD employees at the metal detectors Nov. 29 and earlier.

Schools Superintendent Dr. Clifford B. Janey said, at the Nov. 30 Newark Public Schools Advisory Board Meeting, that Newark police "had pulled its officers from truant detail last week."

"There would be Newark police officers who would accompany our truant and attendance officers when they made home visits," said Janey.

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