NEW JERSEY (WTXF)
Atlantic City Police Officer Josh Vadell walked into a press conference today to a standing ovation.
He's still recovering from being shot in the head last September during a robbery outside the parking garage of Caesars Casino. Officer Vadell spoke with passion against the state's plan to make drastic cuts to public safety.
"We all took an oath to protect the citizens of the state. Who would have thought we'd have to protect the citizens from the state," he said.
State officials want to lay off 100 firefighters which they say is about 50% of the department and 24 police officers which opponents of the plan say would bring the department to the lowest level since 1970 before the casinos opened. The move is part of the state's effort to take over the city's finances.
The Mayor says it's a dangerous move for residents.
"We're not going to be able to put out fires, we're not going to get there with Narcan to save someone that's overdosed and we're not going to be there with the defibrillator in time to bring your loved ones back," said Mayor Don Guardian.
After the news conference community activists and business owners joined police and firefighters on the boardwalk to spread the word about the state's plan.
Community leaders vow to stand with emergency responders being threatened by the proposed cuts.
"If we cannot be protected, if we want to beat down crime and the people that have to beat down crime, we want to beat them down, then we are hurting the community," said James Barclay, Pastor of Full Gospel International Church.
State officials say the move will save money as it takes over the city’s finances.