Crime-Plagued Camden, New Jersey, Wants Union Deal to Stem Police Firings

Mayor Dana Redd of Camden, New Jersey, the nation’s second most-dangerous city, asked unions for concessions to scale back her plan to eliminate 25 percent of the workforce, including half the police department.

Redd, a Democrat in her first term, has called for firing 383 city workers -- including 180 in the police department -- to help close a $26.5 million deficit. Council President Francisco “Frank” Moran said the governing body has scheduled an emergency meeting tomorrow to approve the terminations, which are scheduled to begin Jan. 18.

As many as 58 police officers slated to be fired may be kept on duty if unions agree to a full menu of concessions, said City Attorney Marc Riondino. Camden is coping with a loss of $8 million in state aid after Governor Chris Christie cut funding to municipalities this fiscal year, Redd said in August.

“My door remains open to having any meaningful discussions about concessions, including how we each can work together to save jobs, particularly in police and fire,” Redd told reporters today in her City Hall office. “I sleep here every night. I grew up in this city. I am aware of what’s going on. Unfortunately, we have fiscal realities.”

Camden, a city of about 80,000 people across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, last month was ranked as the second- most dangerous city by CQ Press, a Washington-based publisher of books and periodicals on politics and government. About one-in- three residents live below the federal poverty limit, according to U.S. Census data.

Civilian employees have already given up 20 percent of their salaries through unpaid furloughs and will begin paying more for health insurance, the mayor said.

Karl Walko, head of Council No. 10, a public-employee union representing city civilian workers, didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking comment. John Williamson, president of the city’s police union, wasn’t immediately available for comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Terrence Dopp in Trenton, New Jersey, at tdopp@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at mtannen@bloomberg.net.

Bloomberg reserves the right to remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.