The Associated Press December 3, 2010, 3:28PM ET

Camden, NJ, OKs laying off 1-in-4 city workers

The City Council in New Jersey's most impoverished and violent city has agreed on a plan to lay off one-fourth of city government workers, including about half the police department.

Camden's City Council approved the plan unanimously on Thursday despite pleas from workers and residents to find a way to save the jobs.

The layoffs are to be effective Jan. 18. The state Civil Service Commission has already approved them.

There could be fewer layoffs if public employee unions agree to concessions. Retirements also are likely to reduce the number.

Studies consistently find Camden to be among the most impoverished and crime-ridden cities in the country.

With a tiny tax base, the city of nearly 80,000 relies on the state for most of its funding. But the state slashed aid this year because of a fiscal crisis of its own.

Communities across the state have laid off workers, with some of the biggest cuts coming in police departments in the largest cities.

This week, Newark laid off 167 officers, and Jersey City announced plans to lay off 82. Meanwhile, Atlantic City hired back 17 of the 60 officers it had let go after the police union agreed to pay cut.

Camden Police Chief Scott Thomson has said he'll reconfigure his department so patrols aren't reduced.

About one-third of Camden's firefighting positions also would be eliminated under the city's plans, which could affect every department in the city government.


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