PATERSON, NJ – Police in Paterson, New Jersey are in fear for the future of their careers after budget cuts are putting city jobs on the chopping block.
According to public officials and union representatives, the city has been in talks about how to alleviate some of the pressures from the city’s budget crisis.
The latest talks consider cutting 112 law enforcement officers from the city payroll as well as demoting 19 others.
Keep in mind, this is the same Paterson, New Jersey whose mayor advocated for undocumented illegal immigrants to get driver’s licenses in 2018. Mayor Andre Sayegh commented about the bill, claiming it would “free up resources in courts and jails due to fewer unlicensed or uninsured drivers.
Let's Drive NJ Campaign: Across Party Lines Majority of New Jersey Voters Strongly Support Expanding Access to Drivers Licenses to Undocumented Immigrants in New Jersey https://t.co/NjqmgS2cii
— Chris Golden (@chrisgolden) January 7, 2019
Now that same man who wanted illegal immigrants in his community to be able to “provide and care for their families” wants to put American law enforcement officers’ livelihoods at risk.
Officials met earlier this week to discuss how the budget issues will be handled, with the gap looming somewhere between $8 million and $12 million.
Members of Sayegh’s administration offered a deal that would reportedly save over $4 million and would equate to a two-week paycheck deferral for officers over the next five months. But even if they accepted, there is apparently no guarantee that it would end the conversation on layoffs.
Firefighters and other public servants may find their jobs in jeopardy as well.
Why is it that immigrants who are here illegally can reside in the city and have access to benefits from the city budget, yet our police officers are the ones paying the price?
There are currently 415 officers on the payroll for Paterson. Just 8 years ago, 125 officers were laid off due to a previous budget crisis. What followed the layoffs was an increase in shootings and violent crime. Now that those numbers have fallen, the administration is looking to make the same move.
When questioned about the potential for layoffs, head of the public safety committee, Councilman Michael Jackson claimed that “if we laid off 100 officers, that would be the straw that broke the camel’s back.” He went on to call the proposition “unfathomable.”
Union President Mason Maher said the layoff strategy would “put the police department in an extremely dire situation.” He is hesitant to support the paycheck deferral after a similar agreement from 1994. Maher alleges that officers who have retired recently have still not been properly compensated for that situation.
The city is aiming to begin deferring paychecks beginning February 8th.