New Jersey Treasury Department data shows that retirements in the state’s police and firefighter pension system have swelled by 48 percent over the past two years, reports the Newark Star-Ledger. And a separate report shows police and fire staffing levels dropped by 1,470 — or 4 percent — last year. Officials said many of these retirees feared losing their benefits after Gov. Chris Christie and state lawmakers moved to reform what they saw as lavish public benefits, such as payouts on unused sick time and low-cost health plans.
The retirements have also hit the state police. The division saw 203 troopers leave in 2011, including 197 who retired. It now has 2,782 enlisted members, including the 85 new recruits who graduated from the academy earlier this month. “The continuing decline in public safety through loss of officers from attrition and layoffs is alarming,” said Anthony Wieners, president of the state Policemen's Benevolent Association. “Homicides and fatal accidents are going up while the number of officers are going down. These two trends are going in the wrong direction and jeopardize our state's future.”