ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (CBS)–The police union, which represents officers in Atlantic City, has filed a lawsuit against the state after a chilling letter from Gov. Chris Christie announces pay cuts for police officers.
“This was not an easily reached decision,” said Atlantic City Police Department PBA Local 24. “We did everything we possibly could to work with the state, but it became clear Tuesday that they had no real intention to work with us, do what’s best for the city or protect public safety in this town.”
The lawsuit comes as the Department of Community Affairs–which oversees the state takeover of Atlantic City–announces a list of pay and benefit cuts that effectively negate the police unions’ contracts.
Union officials say the changes in base salaries amount to 20 to 25 percent pay cuts and new rules for overtime mean working over 40 hours in a week doesn’t guarantee overtime pay.
All incentive pay for joining the detective division and bomb squad are gone effective immediately and if an officer is injured on the job they’ll face a 30 percent pay cut for going out on worker’s comp.
“That’s unheard of in police work and it’s particularly insulting because we just had an officer shot,” says PBA Local 24 president Matt Rogers, referring to the injury officer Joshlee Vadell suffered about 6 months ago.
DCA spokesperson Lisa Ryan told Eyewitness News on Wednesday, “For months, we have sought reforms with the city’s police, only to have the police unions on Monday move away from reasonable and fair solutions to the city’s budget crisis.”
Rogers says during the last discussion with state officials over weekend the conversation wasn’t out of the ordinary.
“We offered significant concessions – real concessions that would result in real cost savings,” says Rogers. “They made it clear in that letter they had no intentions of dealing with us in good faith.”
The Atlantic City Fire Department is also facing drastic cuts because of the state takeover.
They’re in a court battle to keep from losing 100 firefighters.
“I’ve gotten dozens of phone calls this afternoon – hey what can we do, where do you want us. We’ll be there to back you guys up no matter what,” says ACPD officer Keith Bennett who is on the executive board for the New Jersey State PBA.
Police, fire and city officials are expected to make further announcements on Friday in regards to cuts to public safety in Atlantic City.