As reported by nj.com, reclaiming the gear they laid down more than two weeks ago, 18 formerly laid-off Trenton police officers returned to work Monday morning.
The somber ceremony of laying down boots outside police headquarters the day of the layoffs was replayed backwards inside the department’s training room, as returning cops happily donned badges, guns, Kevlar vests and neckties before hitting the streets again.
Picking out the items from their individualized boxes that were stored away on the day of the layoffs September 16, the oldest new officers in the department had their colleagues who remained without a job firmly on their minds. “I’m glad to have my job, but we still have 80-some guys still waiting,” Charles Lamin, a seven-year veteran. “It’s like going somewhere without your best friend.”
The number of returning officers is only a fraction of the 105 who were terminated earlier this month. In addition, the re-appointments may be temporary. The 18 officers’ salaries are being paid with a combination of an existing federal grant and the savings from nine retirements that took effect Saturday, police officials said. But the city learned last week it will not receive a second grant award, meaning that the funds for these officers will run out in four to six months.
Though controversy remains over a plan by Mayor Tony Mack to send more than 40 officers of the now-247 member force to foot patrol, cops will be walking the beat today, albeit in smaller numbers. The future of foot patrol in the department remains up in the air. Mack had ordered the anti-crime and drug-units disbanded and their detectives sent to foot patrol, but the plan, which would have taken effect Monday was cancelled after a sit-down with county Prosecutor Joe Bocchini Friday afternoon.
Mack, Bocchini, and police officials will revisit the two competing plans for the depleted force during a meeting today, officials said.