A dozen New Jersey communities will receive nearly $21 million to hire police officers or avoid cutting law enforcement personnel. The Justice Department grant will put 78 officers on the streets, including 25 officers in Newark and 14 in Camden.
Cities can use the grant funding to hire new officers, rehire officers who have been laid off and retain officers who are scheduled to lose their jobs as the result of budget cutbacks.Camden Mayor Dana Redd said her city’s nearly $4 million dollars will bring back 14 officers.”It really helps us in terms of putting additional boots on the ground and restores half of the positions that were previously laid off earlier this year,” said Redd.The President of the local police union in Trenton, George Dzurkoc said he’s disappointed his city did not get a share.”For Trenton it’s catastrophic,” said Dzurkoc. “The officers that are left are going to be drastically overworked, they’re going to be left trying to fill the void of 105 bodies which basically with our crime rate the way it is, it’s virtually impossible to do…the services are definitely going to be cut.”The COPS Hiring Program fully funds entry-level salaries and benefits for full-time police officers over a three-year period. U.S. Senator Robert Menendez said municipalities need the assistance of the federal government to keep officers on the beat.”The safety and security of the citizens of Camden is job one and from the safety and security also flows the business confidence to invest, to create jobs, and to unlock economic opportunity for the citizens of Camden,” said Menendez. “So this all has a lot of meaning to it in terms of achieving Camden’s greater goals.”New Jersey officials stressed that the money for Camden will do more than just keep residents safe, it will also help protect people who go to the troubled city for work, school, or medical care.