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Deep Layoffs Take Effect In Camden

CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) — Some firefighters turned in their helmets and police officers their badges Tuesday as part of deep municipal layoffs destined to further erode the quality of life in Camden, already one of the nation’s most impoverished and crime-ridden cities.

About 335 workers, representing one-sixth of the local government work force, lost their jobs, according to Mayor Dana Redd. It was worst in the public safety departments, where nearly half the police force and close to one-third of the city’s firefighters were laid off.

Laid-off firefighters walked eight blocks together from the police union hall to Fire Department headquarters, snaking past City Hall, then lined up their helmets in front of the building, picked them back up and started to turn them in along with their other gear.

“It’s one of the worst days in the history of Camden,” said Ken Chambers, president of the firefighters union.

Redd blamed the public safety employee cuts on their unions, saying they have not been willing to make job-saving concessions or accept the reality that the state government will no longer bail out the city as it has for the past two generations.

“Instead of protecting and serving the city, the residents of Camden, they’re choosing to protect their high salaries,” she said.

The mayor said she was willing to continue negotiating with unions to try to reach cost savings that would allow the city to bring back some of the laid-off workers.

Redd said a proposal to the rank-and-file police union, the Fraternal Order of Police, was to be voted on Wednesday. She would not say exactly what the proposal entailed or how many jobs it could save. But she said that if the unions agree to concessions, about 100 police officers and most of the firefighters could be brought back.

Chambers said residents should not expect to be safe as the number of fire companies is reduced. He said the union will continue to meet with city officials to try to reach a deal under which some firefighters could be brought back.

Police officers had begun turning in their badges Monday as it became clear that no last-minute deal was going to save many jobs.

Located directly across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, Camden is rampant with open drug-dealing, prostitution and related crimes. More than half of Camden’s 80,000 residents, mostly black and Hispanic, live in poverty.

A local pastor says “the fear quotient has been raised,” and a police union took out a full-page newspaper advertisement last week warning that Camden would become a “living hell” if layoffs were not averted.

The city was the nation’s second-most dangerous based on 2009 data, according to CQ Press, which compiles such rankings. Camden ranked first the previous two years. In 2009, the city had 2,380 violent crimes per 100,000 residents—more than five times the national average, the FBI said.

The anti-crime volunteer group Guardian Angels says it will patrol Camden, as it has Newark, where there were major police layoffs in November.

The Fire Department has already been relying on help from volunteer departments in neighboring towns. Interim Fire Chief David Yates, who retired Jan. 1, has warned that that layoffs will increase response times.

(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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  • jackwagon

    Who thought public service employee unionization was a good idea?

    • JustAGuy


  • FLharleyPM

    Doesn’t surprise me in the least…..deep unemployment=no jobs=nobody paying taxes=less revenue=budget deficits….pretty simple math explains why a lot of cities around the country are experiencing layoffs. However, bureacrats created the mess and there only answer is to not cut spending but rather to reach into your wallet and try to confiscate more of your money so they can keep on perpetuating the same irresponsible behavior that led up to the fiscal mess. Until people band together and refuse to pay on more dime to local and state government, you’re going to keep getting more of the same insanity.

  • Nostromo

    More tax cuts for the wealthy. To enhance what’s already stashed off-shore.
    That’ll fix this situation all across America.

    It’s called trickle-down economics.
    And while we’re at it; outsource more community sustaining jobs to China, India, Korea and Pakistan to ensure we end up just like Haiti.

  • Oldpuppymax

    Gee….I WONDER what makes Camden so dangerous! What makes it so different from Fargo, N.D., or Nome, Alaska??!! Sure is a mystery, isn’t it.

    • JBZ

      i think I know what you are eluding to……

  • William G Dell

    The old saying goes “unions are for those that don’t really want to work” Unions are only interested in the MONEY so they can further their political agenda. they are not really interested in the workers, just their money. They have crippled our economy and in the end will destroy it. If you are a union member, you should be ashamed at what the unions have done. I suppose unions members just don’t get it.

    • whitpederson

      Let’s see, what have unions done…Have they crippled our economy through things like the eight hour work day, or the five day work week, or child labor laws, or the minimum wage, or ending abusive and unsafe practices, or the middle class?

      • TXDiver

        How about come up with answers that have occurred in the last 20 years, and not 100 years ago!!! Unions were relevent then, and defended the worker. Now all they do is keep the ranks fat to insure maximum dues are paid. A little research on Camden officers committing firable offenses and yet retaining their jobs and seniority should drive that point home. If the union was interested in the mission of protecting the public they would have worked WITH the City.

  • walter12

    Here you have the most dangerous city in the US, and it is in New Jersey, where there is no 2nd Amendment rights, and only the criminals have guns. What a place, only a madman would live in Camden or even the entire state of New Jersey.

  • ragu4u

    I live in THE most dangerous city, St. Louis, Mo., and we’re about to suffer cuts as well. The good thing is that when you’re already the MOST dangerous, you can never get worse….only better.

  • Larry

    Why is it that these cities always cut police and firefighters first? Why aren’t they laying off the city administrators and bureaucrats in the santitation, water, eductation and many other departments? Why?, because this is a tried and true democrat tactic to scare the people into paying higher taxes and allow them to keep their bloated non-emergency services, city government workers.

    • jschmidt

      because that;s how the unions get the attention of the press and may embarass the city enough to save the jobs of others.

    • Dan Hansell

      they will also cut the most visible jobs so they can later say, “see what these cuts are doing?”. Everyone knows they could cut 1/3 of the gov’t bureaucracy, keep most if not all the cops and firefighters on the street and no one would notice a thing. They won’t do this because then the proponents of smaller gov’t would be vindicated. Can’t have that so they do it backwards, cut the most important and most visible first

  • Pecos

    Sure, unions are just so wonderful. That’s why the only people still in them work in jobs that can’t be moved offshore. Hotel workers, teachers, government workers, that’s all that’s left. The unions forced all the other jobs to be done overseas.

  • Jason Turnbough

    Sooooo with less cops to “defend” you what will you do? Is Camden going to revamp the laws to facilitate honest people carrying weapons to defend themselves? Let’s face less cops, no rightnto defend yourself more victims ofnviolent crime. Look you can come tomthe south, but leave your stupid unions up North they are a dinosaur destroying our country, and be ready to act like a man and defend yourself if necessary.

    • rescueguy12

      I agree with defending one self tho I’m sure you benif from union work and union pay .so please don’t knock the unions .

  • Mark Matis

    How many of them ever actually bothered to honor their oath of office anyway? You know – the one that includes “…preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution…”? Or was that a mere formality to be ignored as soon as they pinned on the badge and strapped on their gun? A 50% cut seems like a good start.

    The stench is overwhelming. And it smells like pig.

    • Pastor-Chris Kimmenez

      The most dangerous city in the country just laid off half the police force. Is that insane or is it just me

  • Jerry

    Let’s get to the chase! IF (and it’s a large IF) the police and firefighters would have accepted some sort of pay reduction on all, then the layoffs would have been nil. But, oh no, Joe Blow is a selfish wage earner who obviously only cares for his/her own butt. And, there’s the story. Forget shared sacrifice. Not in the cards. Shame on ’em.

  • satch

    Think about this,—–the cities in the most problems like this have been ruled by Democrats,usually for decades,ie,Chicago,Detroit,Camden,etc.

    • Danbury

      Could there possibly, just possibly, be a racial component?

      • Mark Matis

        NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!

        You CAN’T say that! Heck, you can’t even talk about the demographics! If you DO, that automatically makes you a beegot!

        One wonders just how many Affirmative Action police will be removed by this action? Or will they instead get rid of those few who actually DARE to honor their oath of office?

  • joe dirt

    unions are why we have 8 hour work days, 40 hour work weeks and and not have to work as slaves. Just ask yourselves why the US supreme court ruled about a year ago that corporations are people?? Instead of lay offs, they should be cutting pay to all paid employees and managers too keep the cops.

    • HasBeen

      Henry Ford gave us the 40 hour week without any union pressure. And what unions accomplished 100 years ago is far from where they are now. They have forced private American jobs overseas and have bankrupted governments at all levels, city, state and federal. Will these governments make cuts like Camden and survive, or will we drop to a 3rd world nation? I fear the latter.

    • jflan

      Don’t judge unions by what they have done recently…. Judge us by those great things we did 50 years ago…. Get real.

  • Dan

    unions aren’t the problem here folks. It’s blatant, rampant financial corruption at the federal and state level. Stop the infighting and recognize the true enemies for who they are– the bankers.

    • Mark Matis

      Y’all keep on brewin’ that fresh hot black tea now!

    • jflan

      Spoken like a true public employee. They have all the power but none of the resposibility. I got news for you, NJ was on an unsustainable path long before the finacial crisis.

  • John

    The words “huge pension reductions” were conspicuously absent from that newstory.

    When, America, when we will stop the vampires from bleeding us dry? When will we stop the union parasites from killing the taxpayer host?

  • pynaetlb

    With liberals in charge, can anyone honestly say they expected more?

  • Jackie

    “Up to one-fourth of the city government’s workforce is expected to lose their jobs. About half the police force and one-third the firefighters were expected to lose their positions.”

    In doing the quick math, seems non-essential workers are not being impacted. Whatever they do, Camden should not layofft that big fat city worker with the purse in the botttom drawer with a gold clasp on a cigarette break. Oh no, then all hell would break loose.

  • McMal1bu

    Yep, sounds right, get rid of the police and firemen instead of the idiots that caused it.

  • meester

    All hail progress.
    The sooner the city gets ruined the sooner we can bulldoze it and put a park or airport for Philadelphia.

    • TESL

      this would be almost funny if Philadelphia didn’t already have a huge INT Airport and many parks. No regard for the citizens of Camden? What if half the police force in your hometown was cut? I am guessing that your reaction would not be the same.

  • gitzie

    Hey Camden, how’s that sanctuary city concept working out for you all????? I am sure those illegals will pay all your taxes, and save you.

  • CAPS

    WOW, who really thinks things are getting better? It’s going to get even worse ! Think people ! One of the most crime ridden cities in America is laying off cops ?????????

  • Shootist

    To Jack America – We don’t want ’em.

  • icetrout

    We don’t need no stinkin badges :O

  • Cactus Jack

    Stay north. We don’t need your outdated union ideas down here. Fix your own hen house. Don’t come down here and try to fix ours.

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