Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Paterson Rehires 37 Cops Laid off in 2011 Budget Crunch

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Paterson Rehires 37 Cops Laid off in 2011 Budget Crunch

Article excerpt

Thirty-seven Paterson police officers who were laid off during last year's budget crunch were reinstated on Friday, their jobs restored through a mix of state and federal aid at a time when gang violence is spilling blood on city streets.

Mayor Jeffery Jones led an emotional swearing-in ceremony in front of the Public Safety Complex that drew cheers and a few tears from the families and friends of the 37 officers.

"Thank you for enduring something that never should have happened," Jones told the 37 men and women before delivering the oath of office. "From the day we were told we had to make the cuts, we started fighting to get you back."

The 37 officers rejoining the force were among the 125 Paterson cops who were laid off in April 2011, victims of a $70 million budget deficit. The jobs were restored through a combination of state aid and a $3.75 million federal grant provided through the COPS program.

Many of the police officers who were reinstated on Friday had found work in other departments after being laid off. One officer who helped organize those reemployment efforts, Claude Mineo, said 71 of the 125 police officers who were laid off had found other employment.

But when Paterson called offering to give them their jobs back, many jumped at the chance.

"This is my home," said Rafael Hernandez, 25, who found work with the Hudson County Sheriff's Department. "I went to school here and I have my family here. I love this job and I love this city."

Another officer, Kevin Kunzig, 25, comes from a family of Paterson cops. Both his father and his grandfather served on the department. He had been working at a police department in Morris County but came back to Paterson.

"This city is in my blood," Kunzig said. "It's the job I was meant to do."

Jones, in his opening remarks, said that it was a "disgrace" that the poor, crime-ridden city had to resort to police layoffs in April 2011. …

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