Atlantic City police, firefighters challenge proposed layoffs

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In Atlantic City, they have launched a campaign against the State of New Jersey's plan to layoff police and firefighters in the financially crippled city. (WPVI)

In Atlantic City, they have launched a campaign against the State of New Jersey's plan to layoff police and firefighters in the financially-crippled city.

Flyers were handed out on the boardwalk Friday. The message: The state is gambling with public safety by ordering salary cuts and layoffs of first responders.

"The state takeover officials are pushing their plan to layoff almost 50 percent of the entire fire department," said Charles Wowkanech, AFL-CIO.

At an earlier gathering, the police union said it was expecting salary cuts, not 24 layoffs.

"We're below pre-casino numbers now. I mean that is a huge deal. We've never had this few cops working the streets in Atlantic City since 70s, before the casino's were here," said Matt Rogers, Police Officer Benevolent Association.

From the audience came harsh words for the powerful in Trenton.

The state says it had to order the $34 million cuts because of Atlantic City's dismal finances.

Among those urging resistance are police officer Josh Vadell, who is recovering from being shot in the line of duty last year.

He compared Trenton's oversight to the traffic survey connected to Bridgegate.

"The state promises to run the cities' finances properly, but the state can't even run a traffic study properly. I am going to let that sink in for everyone for a moment," said Vadell.

The unions have gone to court to try to stop the state. Others are proposing a $2 a night Atlantic City room tax to counteract the cuts.

At this point, the situation is still fluid. It is not clear how the legal challenges will eventually play out. Organizers of Friday's event hope the public will listen and get involved.

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new jersey newspoliceAtlantic City
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