Three years ago, Newark began recruiting new police officers and training them to fight crime in a city steeped in violence. Now, facing one of the worst budget crises in its history, the city will lay off all but 19 of the 184 police academy recruits hired during Mayor Cory Booker's tenure, says the Newark Star-Ledger, quoting Derrick Hatcher, president of the Newark Fraternal Order of Police. The recruits will lose their jobs so the city can plug an $11 million hole in the 2011 police budget, part of an $83 million citywide deficit. Booker blames the police unions, saying if they would have renegotiated contracts to reduce nighttime and overnight pay, accept once-a-month furloughs and eliminate uniform allowances, the cuts would not have been as deep. “It pains this administration that many of the hard-working, dedicated officers we have hired over the past four years will face layoffs if the police union does not come to the table and make reasonable concessions that will save police jobs,” Booker said.
Hatcher said the police unions will not reopen talks because they negotiated their contracts within the past year and don't believe concessions would offset enough of the budget shortfall to save jobs. When he took office in 2006, Booker promised to reduce violence. That year, the city of 281,000 had 106 homicides, one of its bloodiest years in a decade. Booker hired a new police director – Garry McCarthy – new crime-fighting equipment and new recruits. It cost the city about $825,000 to train the 165 officers who will be pulled off the streets in November.