ATLANTIC CITY — Police union members voted overwhelmingly Friday in favor of a proposal that would have them make more than an estimated half-million dollars in concessions that they hope will bring back the city's laid-off officers.
The members voted 222-20 in favor of the deal that would have them take two furlough days and give up both a paid personal day and their shoe and uniform allowance. The offer will be brought to the city.
"It's the first step," said David Davidson Jr., president of the local Police Benevolent Association. "It's a win for these guys right now. We have to hope the city does the honorable thing and brings them all back."
Twenty officers were cut from the ranks in June, and another 40 lost their jobs Sept. 30, along with 30 city firefighters. In the less than five months since the layoffs began, there have been eight homicides in the city in which no arrests were made. In the first five months of the year, four people were killed, with arrests in three of those crimes.
Added up, the concessions would give $550,000 to $600,000 back to the city, Davidson said. He also said two furlough days would be less of a scheduling burden with only two months left in the year than offers that have called for more days.
"We're trying to cover (the remaining) salaries of the 60 laid off officers," Davidson said.
Deputy Police Chief Ernest Jubilee has said that, with the thinned ranks, he has had to focus on getting officers on the street and answering 911 calls, which has included reassigning those normally tasked with investigating crimes.
The concessions voted on Friday came from a closed-door meeting Jubilee and a few of the officers who were laid off had with Mayor Lorenzo Langford three weeks ago.
Justin Draper and Darrin Lorady, both laid off Sept. 30, said that meeting went well.
"He was very open as long as we were willing to give our concessions," said Lorady, 25, of Ventnor.
"At the meeting he said what we needed to give up," said Draper, 31, of Atlantic City. "We're giving it to him."
"He was open," Lorady said. "I hope he stands by it."
Joe Caprio, also laid off in September, said Davidson and a group of the officers have spent hours working on the plan they brought to the members.
"They responded with an astounding yes vote exemplifying what a union is about," said Caprio, 29, of Margate. "We are extremely excited to bring our plan to the mayor and also eager to get back to the streets and do the job we love."
"We've been meeting daily since our opportunity to meet with the mayor," said Al Herbert, 23, of Atlantic City, who was laid off in June. "Dave Davidson worked hard and got a positive response from the union membership. We are hoping for a similar response from the Mayor's Office."
Davidson said he will have the union's attorney write up a memorandum of agreement and then reach out to the mayor.
As officers came up to vote at the Public Works Compound, they passed by many of their laid-off co-workers, all dressed in red T-shirts emblazoned with SOS, which stands for "Save Our Sixty."
"How do you look them in the face and say no to that?" Davidson asked.
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