News: September 2011
More than 700 N.J. police officers who lost jobs cannot find law enforcement work, survey finds
Published September 29, 2011
NEWARK — There was no safety net for Kaisha Perez when she lost her job with the Newark Police Department late last year.
A 29-year-old single mother with two young children, Perez spent the next seven months collecting unemployment after she and 162 fellow police officers from the three most recent academy classes were laid off as part of an effort to close an $83 million budget deficit.
Perez held out for a job in law enforcement and now considers herself among the fortunate few. In July, she and seven other laid-off Newark police officers were sworn in as Essex County Sheriff’s officers.
But she is the exception. Throughout New Jersey, a total of 705 police officers laid off since January have been unable to find work in law enforcement again, according to a survey conducted by the State Policemen’s Benevolent Association, the state’s largest police union. The survey includes all officers, not just those represented by the union.
Like the thousands of other New Jerseyans laid off in the crippling economy, the officers have struggled to pay their bills, taking on part-time work like truck driving, plumbing and private security, said PBA president Anthony Wieners.
Municipalities forced to lay off officers are still financially strapped, he said. “There’s nobody hiring, and if they are, it’s very sporadic.”
FEAR OF RIOTS
This month, Trenton laid off 105 of its city police officers, a third of the force. Police forces in other economically depressed large cities have suffered a similar fate. In Camden, more than half of the 93 total officers laid off earlier this year haven’t found new jobs in law enforcement, said the local police union president John Williamson.
Last month, Williamson sounded an alarming tone by warning of possible riots in the streets if more officers were not rehired. Williamson said he stands by those words today. “This is not fear mongering,” he said. “Based on my observations and history in the U.S. and in the world, where people feel desperate and impoverished, they tend to let out their frustrations.”
William Roberts, who was laid off last January with 167 other officers in Camden, is still out of work.
Roberts, 41, who spent five years on the force, is collecting unemployment, hoping to return to the job. “I really love that city and working for the city police department,” he said. Roberts believes he will be among the first crop rehired, but knows there is a limit to how long he can wait. “I’m going to have to decide relatively soon whether to apply to other police departments, or, even go to Home Depot and apply as a stock boy. I’m just not at that point yet.”
In Paterson, only a handful of their 125 officers laid off in April have found police jobs, according to state PBA figures. Atlantic City police appears to be the only bright spot; it hired back 57 of the 60 officers laid off last year.
“It’s indicative of how bad the economy is that more of these officers haven’t been able to find jobs,” said James Stewart Jr., vice president for Newark’s Fraternal Order of Police. “There aren’t too many cities that wouldn’t otherwise welcome these fully-trained men and women in the prime of their careers.”
Newark police, by far the largest municipal force in the state with 1,100 officers, applied for a grant in May to hire back 50 officers. The department should find out next month whether the application was approved, said city spokeswoman Anne Torres. On Monday, the city announced it would hire four police officers through a smaller grant.
In nearby Union County, meanwhile, five local police departments recently swore in 17 previously laid-off Newark police officers. The Union County Sheriff’s Office picked up four others as did the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office. New Jersey Transit Police has hired two officers and another is now a federal air marshal.
Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura said his new hires will need little training, and have the added benefit of living in and knowing the area. He added, “the volume they handled as police officers, the contact they had with the public, I think that’s an advantage.”
Before this year, Fontoura said his office was under a nearly three-year countywide hiring freeze. After losing 35 officers this year to retirement, the sheriff’s office has hired about 20 new offocers to bring the force up to about 400 officers. Fontoura said he plans another round of hiring in November.
Another new sheriff’s officer, Tare Richardson, had cast his net as far as Atlanta in hopes of landing a police job.
Ed Murray/The Star-LedgerUnlike many of her colleagues who were laid off, Kaisha Perez was able to find another law enforcement job. She now works for the Essex County Sheriff’s Office.
“Every day I woke up, I kept my faith something good would happen,” he said. Despite a bitter battle in the weeks leading up to last year’s layoffs — which pitted police against the city and new officers against their veteran counterparts — Richardson, 26, said he harbors no ill will. “It was a blessing in disguise. I’d rather look at it like that,” he said.
Since last year’s layoffs, many now ex-Newark officers are still sending out their resumes, while taking on side work, union officials said. Several have become UPS drivers. Others are now Newark special police officers, part-time employees who provide law enforcement services to city agencies.
One such officer, who insisted on anonymity after being instructed not to speak with a reporter, described “a love-hate relationship with the city. I love the job, but I hate the way we were treated,” he said.
The officer is still hoping to get hired back, and may get that chance because all laid-off police officers receive priority consideration for any new round of hiring, even the ones who have found new employment.
Perez, who as a sheriff’s officer is now assigned to prisoner transportation, said she would decline the offer for her old job back if asked. “I’m in the field I want to be and I’m still making a difference,” she said.
Stewart, the union vice president in Newark, said laid-off officers with now stable jobs who might consider a return to the Newark police should instead follow Perez’s lead.
“Honestly, I hope they never look back. I hope they never come back to the city of Newark, where apparently we’re going to be in this kind of situation for the foreseeable future,” he said. “Who knows what next year’s going to bring?”
Alexi Friedman/The Star-Ledger
Sources: Hoboken to withdraw request to sell hospital after bankruptcy negotiations collapse
Published September 23, 2011
Hoboken University Medical Center is shown in this file photo. The hospital’s future is in doubt after the city plans to withdraw its request to sell the facility after negotiations to settle a pending bankruptcy collapsed today, sources told The Star-Ledger.
HOBOKEN — The city of Hoboken is planning to withdraw its request to sell its beleaguered hospital after negotiations to settle a pending bankruptcy collapsed today, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.
The move puts the future of Hoboken University Medical Center — the oldest hospital in the state, with 1,300 employees — in serious jeopardy. A bankruptcy settlement was considered pivotal to the sale of the hospital to the ownership group of Bayonne Hospital.
The sources requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly.
By withdrawing the motion to sell the Hoboken hospital, the city and its hospital authority will prevent formal objections to the sale by creditors. Those objections were likely to include information from depositions and emails.
The withdrawal would also make moot a Hoboken ordinance scheduled for a vote tonight that would provide $5 million for the creditors.
The creditors are owed $34 million from the hospital, and the city-backed hospital authority had asked a bankruptcy judge to give them $5 million from the proceeds of the $65 million sale. The bulk of the proceeds was going to pay off $52 million worth of city-guaranteed bonds that would be retired as part of the sale.
The creditors sought up to $12 million from the hospital as part of the settlement, according to the sources. Creditors failed to strike a deal with the ownership group during six hours of negotiations today, they said.
Donna Leusner, spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Senior Services, declined to comment.
MALDEF: NINTH CIRCUIT COURT RULING SETS POSITIVE PRECEDENT FOR DAY LABORER RIGHTS
Published September 23, 2011
9-2 decision holds restrictions on day laborer speech unconstitutional
LOS ANGELES, CA – Today, in a precedent-setting 9-2 decision in favor of day laborers, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s decision in Comité de Jornaleros de Redondo Beach v. City of Redondo Beach, striking down the City of Redondo Beach’s anti-solicitation ordinance as a “facially unconstitutional restriction on speech.” Citing “well-established principles of First Amendment law,” the en banc Ninth Circuit concluded that the city’s “Ordinance fails to satisfy the narrow tailoring element of the Supreme Court’s time, place and manner test.”
Today’s decision sets a strong precedent on day laborer rights and stands as one in a line of successful cases brought by MALDEF on behalf of the rights of day laborers in the Ninth Circuit over the last dozen years. MALDEF represents the plaintiffs, Comite de Jornaleros de Redondo Beach and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), in the case.
Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel, argued the case before the 11-judge en banc panel on March 21, 2011. Today’s ruling comes as an en-banc decision – a previously ruled-upon case reheard by the panel of 11 circuit court judges – after MALDEF and co-counsel the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area successfully challenged the earlier 2-1 panel decision that upheld the ordinance.
On the ruling, Saenz stated, “Today’s en banc Ninth Circuit opinion resoundingly vindicates the First Amendment rights of day laborers throughout the western United States. The dozens of similar ordinances throughout the region that purport to prevent day laborers from speaking on sidewalks are now even more plainly violative of the Constitution. Each municipality with such an ordinance should immediately suspend and repeal its law. The longstanding principle that the right of free speech belongs to everyone has been significantly bolstered by this decision.”
Pablo Alvarado, Executive Director of National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), stated, “Today’s decision is an outcome of a struggle in the courts and in the streets that began in the early 90’s. The ordinances were intended to render day laborers invisible; but the struggle against these ordinances has made day laborers more visible, more powerful. For the past two decades, the ordinances have stigmatized day laborers as criminals - now they are civil rights leaders. So this victory is not just for them; it is for every American – a victory achieved by humble people for everyone.”
Lateefah Simon, Lawyers’ Committee Executive Director, stated, “This ruling should serve as a warning to other cities that seek to harass or arrest day laborers who are just trying to provide for their families.”
MALDEF originally filed this case in 2004. MALDEF has been defending the legal rights of day laborers in court for over 20 years.
Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation’s leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the “law firm of the Latino community,” MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit: http://www.maldef.org.
For all media inquiries, please contact Laura Rodriguez.
Mass Trenton police layoffs take effect as officers lay down boots outside headquarters
Published September 17, 2011
TRENTON – Placing their boots down as a symbol of leaving their jobs, dozens of laid off Trenton police officers stood outside the headquarters building this morning for a final muster.
Nearly all were in civilian clothes, and some were holding back tears. They straightened their backs to attention, and returned a final salute from Lt. Leonard Aviles.
“Dismissed,” the choked-up Aviles said, and they broke formation.
The majority of the 105 police officers laid off today showed up for the boots ceremony, watched by some of their colleagues who are remaining on the force. A number of them are facing demotion, and with it a roughly 15 percent pay cut.
The mood was somber, as officers who were staying and officers who were going embraced and wished each other well.
“It’s tough, it’s tough,” Sal Reyes said. “I did this job because I love it.”
“I feel the city has failed us, the state has failed us,” said Sammy Gonzalez, facing layoff at the end of the day with a wife six months pregnant.
“You’re losing part of your family,” said Aviles, a Trenton Anti-Crime (TAC) officer who will be demoted to sergeant. “We are a family here.”
At City Hall half an hour later, Mayor Tony Mack said the officer layoffs unavoidable and called it a new beginning for Trenton.
“This administration has exhausted every avenue to pursue union and police jobs,” Mack said. “Although this is a sad day, it’s a day of recovery as well.”
Acting Police Director Chris Doyle, who had just come from the boots ceremony, said he was devastated.
“I just watched 105 police officer walk out of the police department who were loyal to the city, to ensure their safety,” he said.
The 108 planned layoffs were able to be reduced to 105 because of three retirements, Doyle said. The 30 demotions of lieutenants and sergeants were also brought down to 27.
“We will still maintain, as close as we can, our levels in the patrol bureau to maintain staffing levels and respond to 911 calls,” he said.
Doyle declined further comment, but Mack said residents would see more police on the streets as officers are removed from desk jobs and specialized units.
“They’ll come from other assignments,” Mack said, but could not give details.
“I don’t know,” he said when asked what specific units the manpower would be drawn from. “It’ll be from those different divisions. It depends on how we deploy our officers, we have to maintain our department.”
POLICE OFFICER RECRUIT JOB POSTING
Published September 15, 2011
Deadline to apply is September 21, 2011. Applicants possessing a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in a related discipline or those who possess a current PTC certification and have police experience are desired. Applicants who are currently enrolled at a New Jersey Police Training Commission sanctioned police academy or that have at least two years active military service with an honorable discharge are preferred.
POLICE OFFICER RECRUIT
11-001136 (There are 6 openings for this position)
Under supervision, renders police services designed to provide assistance and protection to persons, safeguard property, and provide required security services to the Rutgers University community. Ensures that the laws of the State of New Jersey, local ordinances, and the rules and regulations of Rutgers University are observed on campus and contiguous streets. Provides general assistance to all persons on the campus, including information regarding campus geography, special events, campus regulations, provisions of the law, and other related matters. Requires ability to deal courteously and effectively with a culturally diverse community, both individually and in groups. Initiates, receives, and investigates complaints; where possible takes appropriate action in cases under the officer’s jurisdiction; and reports said complaint and corrective action in keeping with the State Uniform Crime Report Program. Investigates criminal, motor vehicle, civil,
and other complaints committed by or against the university community and the general public, and observes established regulations and policy. When necessary, takes appropriate action to apprehend, warn, cite, and/or take into custody violators of the laws of the State of New Jersey.
Applicants must minimally possess the following qualifications for consideration: High school/vocational school education (or equivalent); U.S. citizenship; valid New Jersey driver’s license (with two years of driving experience). Requires ability to perform all essential job functions; write clear, accurate, and comprehensive police reports; and have completed or be able to satisfactorily complete, within one year of appointment, the Police Training Course given by an accredited police academy in the State of New Jersey. Applicants possessing a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in a related discipline or those who possess a current PTC certification and have police experience are desired. Applicants who are currently enrolled at a New Jersey Police Training Commission sanctioned police academy or that have at least two years active military service with an honorable discharge are preferred. Applicants may be selected to appear before
a police review board or complete a pre-employment physical agility test. Selected candidates will be required to satisfactorily complete a pre-employment medical examination that includes drug screening, stress test, and consultation with a psychologist.
Background Check Required
The finalist for this position may be subject to a background investigation, the results of which will be considered in the hiring decision.
Applicants will have to undergo and pass a thorough background check. Applications must be submitted by midnight on September 21, 2011. Fully certified PTC and alternate route candidates preferred. College degree preferred.
AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY/AFFIRMATIVE ACTION EMPLOYER
It is university policy to provide equal employment opportunity to all its employees and applicants for employment regardless of their race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disability, atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait, marital status, civil union status, domestic partnership status, veteran status, or any other category protected by law.
PUBLIC SAFETY INFORMATION
Information regarding public safety at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey is available in the annual security report Safety Matters. For each of Rutgers’ regional campuses, the report includes statistics for the previous three years concerning reported crimes that occurred on campus; in certain off-campus buildings or property owned or controlled by Rutgers University; and on public property within, or immediately adjacent to and accessible from, the campus. The report also includes institutional policies concerning campus security, such as policies concerning alcohol and drug use, crime prevention, the reporting of crimes, sexual assault, and other matters. To have a copy of Safety Matters mailed to you, call the Rutgers University Police Department for the campus in which you are interested at one of the following numbers: Camden 856/225-6009; Newark 973/353-5581; New Brunswick 732/932-8407. This report may also be viewed online at the
following web sites: Camden Campus, Newark Campus, and New Brunswick Campus.
U.S. officials warn of possible terrorist threat as Sept. 11 commemoration nears
Published September 9, 2011
Andrew Harrer/BloombergHomeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is pictured in this file photo.
U.S. officials today warned of an unconfirmed terrorist plot aimed at possibly striking
New York or Washington this weekend as the nation commemorates the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
WASHINGTON — U.S. officials said today they have “specific, credible but unconfirmed” intelligence regarding a possible attack against the United States during the Sept. 11 anniversary this weekend, according to a report on CNN.com.
A source told the news organization that New York and Washington were cited as specific targets, but officials declined to disclose details of the threat or method of attack.
ABC News, however, is reporting that at least three individuals, one of whom may be a U.S. citizen, may have entered the country in August from Afghanistan and are being sought by intelligence officials. The report cited a potential vehicle-borne attack, adding that authorities nationwide are searching for two rental trucks.
Members of Congress were briefed about the threat by the White House and intelligence officials, CNN reported.
Earlier today, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano warned of ‘lots of chatter’ being made across jihadi websites ahead of the nearing Sept. 11 anniversary, according to a report by CNN.com.
Speaking at a briefing with reporters in Washington, Napolitano said terrorist groups, including al Qaeda, show increased interest in striking the United States during major events. As the nation observes the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, more federal air marshals will be deployed and other security agencies will see increased staffing, Napolitano said.
Heavy security is expected for Sunday’s ceremonies at the World Trade Center site, in which Presidents Obama and Bush, along with Govs. Chris Christie and Andrew Cuomo, are scheduled to attend.
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