Record Layoffs Hit Newark Police Force

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Illustration, Getty Images
    Cory Booker says he'll wait for the union to vote on a new plan before he makes the police layoffs official.

    The Newark Police Department has finalized 167 layoffs after their union refused to return to the bargaining table with Mayor Cory Booker.

    The layoffs finalized Monday night mark the city's largest force reduction in 32 years.

    Last week, the Fraternal Order of Police said it had rejected the city's proposals that would have made cuts through reduced overtime, pay deferrals and furloughs.

    The layoffs were announced this fall to offset what Booker characterized as an $11 million budget gap. Firefighters also were targeted for layoffs but reached a settlement earlier this month.

    About 400 white-collar workers also faced layoffs Tuesday. David Fox, an attorney representing the police and white-collar unions, said Monday night that negotiations were continuing.

    Booker appeared to raise the possibility that some of the police officers could be hired back, but not without concessions.

    "While it is too late to avoid these layoffs, the door is not closed to further negotiation, which we hope might result in the rehiring of some or all of these dedicated officers," the mayor said Monday night. "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 and Police Director Garry McCarthy were scheduled to hold a news conference Tuesday. The FOP didn't comment on the layoffs Tuesday morning.

    Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa said Tuesday that the anti-crime group would send members from New York City to patrol parts of Newark.

    "Hopefully a settlement can be reached, but in the interim we're asking a lot of our New York Angels to spend time over in Newark," Sliwa said. "Newark's done a great job driving down the crime rate, and they don't deserve this."

    Violent crime in Newark dropped sharply from the end of 2006, Booker's first year in office, until last year. But it has crept back up this year, with murders, rapes and robberies up between 6 and 12 percent, according to police department statistics.

    The layoffs initially were scheduled for Nov. 12 and also threatened the jobs of nearly 100 firefighters as well as 112 high-ranking officers who faced demotion. Unions sued, and the city reached settlements to avoid the firefighter layoffs and police demotions.

    A state Superior Court judge gave the remaining parties a 10-day extension until Nov. 22. During that time, the city went back to court to cut the extension short but was denied. Booker then gave the police and white-collar union another week to reach an agreement.

    Over the weekend before Thanksgiving, Booker announced a proposal to avoid the layoffs through cuts in overtime, pay deferrals and furloughs that he said would save $6.8 million, but the police union rejected the proposal. The union had proposed $2.7 million in cuts that it said would cover the officers specifically targeted for layoffs.