Residents of Camden, ranked one of the country's most dangerous cities, faced another day today with little more than half a police force, after a police union last night voted down a furlough program proposed by the city.
Members of the Camden Fraternal Order of Police yesterday rejected a concession proposal from Mayor Dana Redd by a vote of 300 to 1, according to union president John Williamson.
Redd said city that officials are willing to meet with the unions for further negotiations "at any time and any hour." Williamson also agreed to keep negotiating.
The city this week laid off 167 police officers, 67 firefighters and 100 nonuniformed city employees, including civilian police dispatchers, as it struggles with a $26.5 million budget deficit.
A New Jersey judge said yesterday he would not force the city to take back the laid-off workers.
Rudd said the city proposal turned down by FOP members yesterday would have saved about 100 jobs. The city plan consisted of an 18-month furlough program "and other cost-saving measures," Redd said.
Williamson said the city proposal called for bringing back officers if they agreed to three unpaid furlough days a month for six months then one more day a month for the next year. Chief John Thomson said 92 percent of remaining police had been assigned street duty.