Pennsauken Township officials have notified the state of their intention to lay off 12 police officers in December, the New Jersey Civil Service Commission said Friday.
Mayor Jack Killion, who is facing reelection next month, said, however, that the township was in negotiations with the police union and hoped to avoid the layoffs through salary and benefits cuts.
"I don't want to see anyone lose their job," he said. "We've been down this road before, and the union has been willing to work with us. Hopefully, that will be the case this time."
The town had planned to lay off officers last year, but that was averted when a group of older officers agreed to retire, said New Jersey Fraternal Order of Police Legislative Chair Steve Demofonte.
"We're very concerned," he said. "This is a reduction in force that's unprecedented."
The police department employs 94 police officers, Killion said. In paperwork submitted to the state, the township also stated plans to lay off two nonuniformed employees.
Last year, the Civil Service Commission approved almost 1,400 police and firefighter layoffs across the state, with cities such as Newark and Camden laying off hundreds of uniformed officers.
Many jobs were ultimately saved, either by last-minute union deals or state grants that allowed officers to be hired back.
So far this year, the Civil Service Commission has approved 395 police and firefighter layoffs.
With a municipal election only weeks away, the layoffs have become a political issue in Pennsauken.
Republican challengers for the all-Democratic township committee characterized the move as a sign of fiscal mismanagement.
"All the township workers, they all got raises this year," said JoAnn Young, one of the GOP candidates for township committee. "I don't understand why there's raises if there's no money to pay for it."