Layoffs of Police in Trenton Imminent
GLENN TOWNES Special to the AmNews | 8/10/2011, 6:24 p.m.
More than 100 police officers in the city of Trenton will be dismissed as early as September if a restructuring plan authored by Mayor Tony Mack and submitted to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's office for approval is passed by the end of the month.
According to reports, the immediate layoff of nearly one-third of the Trenton Police Departments' 353 officers would come as early as mid-September, with pink slips being sent out in August to the furloughed officers. The plan was submitted to the New Jersey Civil Service Commission last week and is likely to be approved by state officials this month.
In addition to the firings, acting Trenton Police Director Joseph Juniak said there will be at least 30 demotions department-wide, including the streamlining of at least a dozen or more supervisors. Juniak will retire in early September, shortly before the layoffs would take effect.
"I'm fortunate that I can retire," Juniak said last week in a statement to reporters. "But you're talking about 100 officers who can potentially lose their jobs, and that's going to be devastating not only for the department but for the city."
The move to submit and implement the layoffs by the mayor will add to the short, checkered tenure of the Tony Mack administration. Trentonians continue to loudly share their displeasure with Mack's subpar performance as head of the city.
"This is just another example of how the people of Trenton must continue to deal with the bad decisions and poor leadership of Tony Mack," said Tracey Syphax, a prominent Trenton businessman and community leader. "Things won't change for the city of Trenton until Mack is out of office."
Syphax and at least a dozen other community activists have mounted a bold effort to force a recall of the election that put Mack in office one year ago. Following a series of high-profile cabinet replacements, resignations and firings and dozens of other gaffes, the city of Trenton has been mired in controversy and scandal since Mack has taken over.
"The last thing we need to have is a cutback in the number of police on the streets," said one city resident. "The crime rate in Trenton has gotten out of control, and eliminating the number of police on the streets is not the answer to reducing the crime rate."
In a brief statement to reporters, Mack said the cutbacks are necessary in order to maintain a tight budget. He added that New Jersey State Police Lt. Ismael Rivera will join the Trenton Police Department as the first permanent police director later this year, pending approval from the City Council. He dismissed the move by city leaders to get him ousted as mayor, saying, "It would cost more for the city to initiate a recall than it would be for me to complete my term as mayor."