HACKENSACK, N.J. – The Bergen County Police Services laid off 26 law enforcement officers Monday, and 11 more were demoted, according to their union president.
Experiencing a sad day together, the officers and dozens of their supporters gathered in Hackensack to walk along River Street from the Bergen County Plaza to the Bureau of Criminal Investigation building to turn in their equipment, reported Hackensack Daily Voice.
They entered the facility in pairs to officially relinquish badges, guns, magazines and vests, according to Chris Weston, president of PBA Local 49.
Weston said the officers received emails Sunday night informing them that they would be laid off at 4 p.m. Monday.
There are 19 veterans among 37 who were affected by the move, he said.
“We have one officer who is overseas. He doesn’t know if he is going to have a job when he gets back from Afghanistan,” Weston said Monday.
Another veteran, John Baker, served with the U.S. Marine Corps in Iraq, and spent over 11 years as an officer with Bergen County. He was in Hackensack Monday to turn in his equipment.
“I just bought a house. My wife is pregnant,” Baker said, adding his wife is due in July and he is now worried about health insurance.
Dan Sansevere has spent eight years with the agency. Needless to say, he is also worried for his family.
“We are trying to figure out how we are going to put food in my little girls’ bellies and a roof over their heads right now,” he said, as his two daughters, 5 and 3, stood at his side.
Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino said layoffs could have been avoided if union leaders had allowed members to vote on a revised proposal aimed at keeping them employed.
“The state requires that sheriff’s officers, not county police officers, provide law enforcement services in the County Justice Complex,” he said. “Recently the state added a requirement that all civil court room be protected by a sheriff’s officer, therefore resulting in the need for additional sheriff’s officers.”
Last week, he said, PBA Local 49 rejected a proposed agreement that he said “would have kept all effected officers employed while saving tax dollars.”
Conversely, officers believe they are being discriminated against.
The officers “are being targeted as victims of political retribution” by Sheriff Michael Saudino, who’s “engaging in union busting,” said leadership of Bergen County Police Officers PBA Local 49 last month.
(Photo: Bergen County Sheriff’s Office Facebook)