Occhipinti Statement on Police Layoffs

Occhipinti Statement on Police Layoffs

Recently the state gave Mayor Dawn Zimmer approval to proceed with significant cutbacks within the Hoboken Police Department, resulting in the termination and demotion of 37 officers. While we all recognize the need for fiscal responsibility, I have concerns that these cuts can pose a significant threat to the safety and security of the citizens of Hoboken.
Contrary to the mayor's claims that this will not reduce the number of officers patrolling the streets, police sources have stated that this will result in 14 fewer officers on patrol. This is because 15 of the 19 superior officers being demoted are already performing these roles in the streets and not, as the mayor has stated, being moved off of desk jobs. 
These types of misunderstandings occur because of a failure to communicate. This is just one of several discrepancies with the mayor's plan that were brought to light by an audit commissioned by the PBA, which appears to have been wholly ignored. From a public safety standpoint, as well as from a legal standpoint, I feel that it is negligent to ignore this type of information when dealing with issues as important as our safety.
Hoboken is a unique city with its combination of dense residential housing, thriving nightlife, and heavy local and commuter vehicular and pedestrian traffic. Unlike the administration, I have taken the time to listen to residents who believe that these cutbacks will invite a higher rate of crime in our city.
Throughout my campaign for the open 4th Ward Council seat, I have made it clear that I am running to represent the residents of our ward. We are a section of town bordered on two sides by Jersey City and a stones throw from the Montgomery Gardens public housing complex, where a 5-year-old girl was tragically shot in the neck a few weeks ago. 
The residents of the 4th Ward have been put on the backburner for far too long, and now our safety, quality of life, and property values are being jeopardized in pursuit of the mayor's campaign promises.
The solution to lowering taxes is not to cut from one area just to increase spending in another. When I see new hires in the parking division, raises for the mayor's personal assistants, and what seems like a never-ending stream of new contracts going out to politically-connected law firms, I have to question our commitment not only to public safety, but to protecting our property values and to actually lowering property taxes. 
Based on the facts presented by the mayor, the State Department of Local Government Services, and the Northeast Labor Consultants report, I personally do not feel comfortable that proper consideration was given to such an important decision in terms of the actual impact these cuts will have on police presence on our streets.
For a savings that amounts to $75 a year for the average household, the loss of 14 patrol officers seems a high price to pay, especially if it is uncertain how it will effect our public safety. I urge the mayor and her administration to make a greater effort, both now and in the future, to communicate and work with our public safety personnel when considering drastic actions such as this. The taxpayers are not at war with public safety. We are all part of the same community, and we need to work together in order to succeed.

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