Most of the 125 police officers laid off yesterday in Paterson, N.J., traded in their guns and badges for rally posters reading “Support Cops Not Crime” as they took to the streets in protest of the city’s decision to shed one fourth of its police force, reports the Bergen Record. The crowd of former patrol officers marched from police headquarters to City Hall, closing streets and turning heads with such booming chants as “911, who’re you going to call!”
Mayor Jeffery Jones has insisted the layoffs were unavoidable because of orders from the state. However, he said that only about 80 officers would have been let go had the union not “rejected outright” an original layoff plan. Union President Steven Olimpio said there was no such rejection, arguing that the union offered $7.3 million in concessions to save the jobs, but the administration dismissed the offer. Several laid-off officers blamed fiscal mismanagement for the pink slips and warned of a spike in crime that will follow.