Paterson, New Jersey Cuts 125 Police Officers

PATERSON, NJ (AP/CBSNewYork) - Members of the police union marched…

PATERSON, NJ (AP/CBSNewYork) – Members of the police union marched to City Hall screaming “911 Who ya gonna call!” as they protested the layoffs of 125 police officers in Paterson Monday.

Officers wearing protest shirts and holding signs reading “Less cops equals more crime” crowded onto the steps of the city’s Public Safety Complex on Monday.

“This is all I wanted to do since I was born,” one officer said. ”It’s just heart wrenching, I can’t believe it.”

The layoffs of a quarter of the police force comes after the city eliminated 392 municipal workers out of a workforce of nearly 2,000 to combat a $70 million budget deficit.

Mayor Jeffery Jones insisted he had no choice.

“The city chose to lay off the 125 no matter what we brought to the table,” Jones said.

Union President Steven Olympia believes the layoffs could’ve been avoided. A federal grant will bring back 25 positions in July.

Eighteen Guardian Angels began patrolling the city on Sunday.

Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa says members keep an eye on neighborhoods, break up fights and make citizen arrests. The group hopes to recruit Paterson residents to take over the patrols.

“You take 125 cops away, you’re basically putting a sign out that says, ‘City open. Open season for criminals.’ and we don’t want that image to go out about Paterson,” Sliwa told CBS2.

Worry over the layoffs isn’t confined to the city of Paterson.

“Actually, I hear that a lot of the confidential informants are advising, like a lot of the narcotics guys and the gang officers, that they’re waiting. They’re waiting for this day,” a cop from neighboring Prospect Park told WCBS 880 reporter Levon Putney.

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