A spokesman for the New Jersey State Policemen's Benevolent Association said Tuesday the organization will pull its collective bargaining seminar out of Atlantic City and possibly its spring convention to protest the layoff of 60 police officers.
PBA spokesman Jim Ryan said the seminar and the association's annual March event have been held in Atlantic City for the past 25 years, and draw more than 2,500 PBA members to Atlantic City.
"Between those two events, the PBA brings about $1 million each year into the city. We sell out the Trump Plaza and a good portion of the Tropicana. Between the bars and restaurants and hotels we bring in a lot of money," Ryan said.
Now, the union has decided to forgo the February meeting and is seriously considering cancelling its March date.
"We cannot support a community that does not support its police department," PBA president Tony Wieners said Tuesday afternoon.
"We come into the city during the quietest time of the year in February and March, and not that we save the city, but we help," Ryan said.
Ryan said the PBA's collective bargaining seminar has been moved to Pines Manor in Edison, Middlesex County.
Ryan said the decision to leave Atlantic City is a difficult one, but he believes the union ultimately will decide to go elsewhere for its convention unless "things change dramatically" in Atlantic City.
"We've enjoyed Atlantic City and they've been a great host to us and it's a nice break for these officers and what they do every day, but we can't go to a city that doesn't value their police," Ryan said.
Jeff Vasser, executive director for the Atlantic City Convention and Visitors Authority called it "a shame" the PBA has decided to take its seminar out of the city and could also pull its convention out as well.
"I'm disappointed. We were hoping they wouldn't do that. They have a nice event when they're here. All I can say is it is disappointing because one has nothing to do with the other. We support them and so does the city," Vasser said.
Ryan said the PBA has struggled for several months with city officials to make inroads regarding police layoffs. He said Mayor Lorenzo Langford has refused to meet with PBA officials.
"He said he didn't have to meet with us and I guess he doesn't. But he can go to China to visit and he couldn't meet with us and we're right around the corner. With events like these that bring in about $1 million to the city, we thought he'd want to meet with us," Ryan said.
Langford traveled to China earlier this month he met with two Chinese billionaires and spoke with them about possibly investing in some of the city's vacant properties.
Reached at his home Tuesday afternoon, Langford said he had no comment about the PBA's decision.
Public Safety Director Christine M. Petersen also said she had no comment.
"That's a decision that the PBA has to make. They get to choose. Atlantic City is not the only city that's laying off officers. Even percentage-wise we're low with how many officers we're laying off," Deputy Chief Ernest Jubilee said.
Contact Donna Weaver: