Atlantic City lays off dozens of police and firefighters

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. - September 30, 2010

They came to the Public Safety Building, some with their children, to turn in their badges, weapons, and vests.

"The way the city is doing it is wrong. It's only going to get worse," one of the laid off officers Ferdinand Berrios said.

30 Atlantic City firefighters also lost their jobs today.

The layoffs were the first anyone could recall in the department.

"It's about the lack of protection in certain areas and response times," Angelo DeMaio of the Atlantic City Firefighters Union said.

Atlantic City is facing a $10-million to $15-million budget deficit.

The business administrator says if the unions had made more concessions, the layoffs could have been averted. This is something the unions say is untrue.

Meanwhile, the layoffs reduce the fire department to about 210 members with five fewer fire companies, according to the union.

The police force is down to 288 with many inside officers and special units reassigned to street patrols.

Union Chief David Davidson, whose own son was let go, says the city will suffer.

"We're just responding now, we're responding to 9-1-1 calls, and we're not out there being proactive and you can't have that kind of police department. If you're just responding to the calls, you're not able to follow up on anything else," Davidson said.

Residents fear the cuts in police and fire will make the city even less safe.

"I don't feel like we have any more protection anymore," resident Ekaterini Nanos said.

The rank and file member of the police and firefighters are hoping that something positive will come from meetings between city and state officials next week in Trenton.

Right now, though, 70 uniform and 23 other city workers are out of a job.

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