HOLLYWOOD (CBS4) – The Broward County Police Benevolent Association is fighting to save the jobs of 13 police officers who have been told they’re being laid off due to a ten million dollar budget shortfall.
PBA President Jeff Marano claims the city’s move to fire the officers is illegal and the union is doing what it can to prevent the layoffs.
In addition to the police officer layoffs, city officials also voted Monday night to lay off 18 other City workers and slash remaining city workers salaries by 7 ½-percent.
“It’s hard enough to make your mortgage and pay your insurance and now your pay is cut, no wonder there are foreclosures,” said one Hollywood city worker on Tuesday.
During a packed city commission meeting Monday night, the commission voted to lay off the officers and the City workers, which is roughly 2 ½-percent of the entire public workforce in Hollywood.
The commission also cut the remaining police officers salaries by 10-percent, cut 12 ½-percent from firefighters pay and cut 10-percent from the mayor, and commissioner’s staff.
“It’s not fair. Because all we do is wake up every day and put a vest on and a gun on my hip and want to protect the City,” said Officer Meredith Tisch with tears in her eyes. Tisch was among those losing their jobs.
Officer Danielly Deandrade agreed while tears streamed down her face. She was also laid off. “I would take any pay cut to be here to stay here. But they don’t care.”
The officers will be out of work in just a week and a half.
Mayor Peter Bober declined to comment about the controversial vote but Vice-Mayor Patty Asseff spoke briefly, “It’s not something any of us wanted to do, but we had to do it, it’s either that or we can’t afford to pay them.”
The police officer’s union plans to fight the cuts with an appeal to the Florida Public Employee Relations Commission which mediates these types of disputes.
“Most of the members were very, very shocked at the way they were treated and many of the citizens who came to support us were very unhappy that they didn’t get a chance to speak,” said Jeff Marano of the PBA. “One of the individuals who spoke last night comes from a police family, has lived and worked in Hollywood his whole life, has watched his father and wanted to become a Hollywood police officer. It’s devastating to these kids.”
The union says it’s a matter of public safety so they’re also launching a grass-roots campaign in the city to let the neighborhoods know how exactly they’ll be affected.
The unions also argue the City could use Community Redevelopment Agency money to make ends meet and they criticize commissioners for spending 600-thousand dollars on refurbishing the City’s water tower.