Gray is among the communications operators who would be let go if the plan were to proceed.
The contemplated layoffs, revealed by Gray Friday, are part of a plan to
cut 745 civilian workers in the state Division of Law and Public Safety. He said the plan would include 123 of 140 communications operators who work directly for the state police and 160 of 212 security guards responsible for patrolling the capital's buildings and parking lots.
If the plan is approved by the state Department of Personnel, Gray said, affected workers would be notified May 9 of layoffs effective June 28.
"It's just about a done deal unless we can change their minds," Gray said.
The move comes as a result of a Florio administration directive to department heads to cut budgets by 8 percent because revenues have fallen well below expectations.
Capt. Thomas Gallagher, state police spokesman, confirmed the contemplated layoffs involving the communications operators and the security guards. But Gallagher disagreed with Gray's contention that public safety would be harmed.
Gallagher said most of the work of the laid-off communications operators would fall to 270 state police sergeants, the majority of whom work in managerial jobs in stations throughout the state. He said uniformed patrol officers would not routinely be pulled off the road, "but there may be times when a trooper has to man a radio."
As for patrolling state buildings, Gallagher said, "I would think we're going to have to use some type of roving patrols. There will obviously be times when some areas aren't covered, but we will do the best we can."
Gallagher noted that years ago uniformed troopers stationed at barracks performed the tasks now handled by the communications operators.
"It was nice when it was available to us, but when it is taken away, we are going to have to pull up the slack," he said.
Public safety isn't the only thing that has Gray and members of the union irked.
Gray said that most of the members of his union who would be laid off were black, Hispanic, female or single parents who he said would end up unemployed and on welfare. That is particularly the case in the guard jobs, he said.
The state is going to "take troopers off the road earning two times what our people do" and put them in clerical jobs, Gray said. "It doesn't make sense."
Gallagher confirmed that at least 200 trooper positions in the state police were unfilled because of the budget squeeze and a hiring freeze that began two years ago. State police had an authorized strength of 2,797 sworn positions in October, Gallagher said, but only 2,587 were filled.