ATLANTIC BEACH SC Dec 6 2012 — The town is without its own police protection again. Mayor-elect Jake Evans said Monday he learned Sunday that Chief Mike Bordner had left because the town wasn’t able to pay him. “I find that very disturbing because … we’ve found money to hire a town prosecutor, we’ve got two judges but the No. 1 thing we’re supposed to have in this town – police coverage – we have no money. That’s a joke.
Evans isn’t sure how the town will move forward to replace the police force. “That [police] holds the municipality together,” he said. “If you can’t provide police protection for your citizens, then you have no town.”
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. July 24 2012 – 58 corrections officers will lose their jobs, and so will all 71 community service officers, it was decided today during a Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office lottery.
In addition to the 58 corrections officers, 16 vacant corrections officer positions have been eliminated, making for a total of 74 corrections officer positions to be cut.
The layoffs will affect three classes of corrections officers, and all members of the last class are likely to be let go.
The last day for the community service officers and the corrections officers to be laid off will be August 24.
There are state-mandated positions, so those will likely be filled with overtime posts.
Last year, 48 officers were laid off.
After this round of layoffs, there will be 95 uniformed officers laid off. Those positions won’t be cut until October 1. The lottery for the October round of layoffs is expected to be held in August.
Source: First Coast News
Detroit MI July 17 2012 - Dozens of union workers and city residents packed a Detroit City Council hearing today to oppose a plan that restructures union contracts.
The council met for nearly three hours today to discuss the plan, which totals $102 million worth of savings. The new employment terms, approved by Detroit’s Financial Advisory Board last week, include a 10 percent wage cut across the board and significant changes to health care and work rules.
But leaders called the plan a union busting tactic. One resident even called the Bing administration “low down and dirty” for negotiating previous concessions that never came into fruition.
“We work hard every day,” said Durrell Washington, 24, a city bus driver for nearly 3 ½ years. “We only bring home so much money and it’s hard for us to live after we took so many cuts to help revive the city. Enough is enough.
“The financial board is bullying and trying to revive the city off the backs of employees. Council should vote against what’s going on.”
City officials said the cuts are necessary to keep the city financially viable. If the City Council does not sign off on the plan, it can be imposed by the Financial Advisory Board under Public Act 4, the state’s emergency manager law. The consent agreement was crafted under the terms of P.A. 4.
What you see is what we on the city side decided was in the best interest of the city,” said director of labor relations Lamont Satchel. “This was a collaborative process that was supervised and administered by labor relations.”
Added Chief Operating Officer Chris Brown: “Things are not the same. … It may not be fair, but it’s necessary.”
Mayor Dave Bing, in a statement, urged council members to approve the contract terms immediately to help resolve the city’s financial crisis. The council did not make a decision to vote on the initiative. Council President Pro Tem Gary Brown sought to get his colleagues to put it up for a vote Tuesday, but it was tabled.
“Any delay in acting on the city employment terms places the city into a deeper cash crisis, resulting in an inadequate cash flow to make payroll, to pay vendors, and will represent a default in the Financial Stability Agreement — ultimately, triggering the appointment of an emergency manager by the state,” Bing said in the statement.
“In order to maintain governance of the city and meet the city’s budget obligations, it is incumbent upon City Council to act now.”
Financial Advisory Board members, who are overseeing Detroit’s financial restructuring as part of the consent agreement, said last week the plan is similar to what was already in a tentative agreement, but never implemented.
Council members questioned city staff about how the terms were crafted and what might happen if the panel declined to approve them. Councilwoman JoAnn Watson questioned why the savings aren’t as high as what was forecast in tentative agreements with the unions last year.
“Union leaders said that amounted to $105 million. I just want to be clear this piece says $102 million, that was less than what was negotiated last December,” Watson said.
City officials countered that it doesn’t include two police and fire unions that would add about $18 million to the savings.
Al Garrett, president of AFSCME Council 25, pleaded to the council not to vote on the agreement and instead allow it to be imposed as part of Detroit’s consent agreement with the state. That would buy more time to negotiate, Garrett said.
“We have not agreed to any of this,” Garrett said. “They can’t put it in place and thus you have some say in this. I ask all of you … at the very least I’m asking for 30 days. Let them impose it. Stand up and be accountable.”
Joe Duncan, president of the Detroit Police Officers Association, said Detroit “should be investing, and not dismantling, its core and most essential service — its police department.”
Crime in the city has “spiraled out of control … it’s the one thing that is actually flourishing in Detroit,” he said. “Crime is thriving and growing and overwhelming not only the police department but also its citizens.”
Union concessions are a big portion of the budget proposed by Bing and approved by the City Council. The budget for the fiscal year that began July 1 calls for $250 million in savings and cuts about a third of the city’s 11,000 member workforce.
About 2,600 jobs are expected to be lost. It also called for 10 percent pay cuts for all employees, including police and firefighters, through renegotiation of contracts.
Most city contracts expired June 30. Under the consent agreement, the city was to impose new union contracts by today. In addition to the pay cut, the new contract calls for about $52 million in savings by changing the city’s health care plan. The plan will eliminate dental and vision coverage for retirees, and increases co-pays on insurance. The contribution from employees on prescription drugs also increases.
Even with the changes, benefits are still better than the auto companies as well as Wayne County, said Chief Financial Officer Jack Martin.
“It’s better than GM, Ford and Chrysler,” Martin said.
The proposal also includes changes to pension and work rules. Police Chief Ralph Godbee said having the flexibility to change shifts are essential.
“Having the flexibility to look at those work rule changes are significant to be able to deliver police services moving forward,” Godbee said
Representatives from the Detroit Police Officers Association plan to file an emergency appeal with the hopes of countering a judge’s ruling last week that the city isn’t required to bargain with the officers over pay and benefits.
The contract for the union’s 2,130 members expired on June 30. The ruling by Ingham County Circuit Judge Paula Manderfield means officers don’t know the depth of cuts or even how much they’ll be paid because the city hasn’t released terms.
Earlier, Duncan requested an audience with the Detroit City Council “to provide facts in support of its side of the story regarding police officer cuts.”
In a six-page letter sent to Councilwoman Brenda Jones, Duncan pointed out the association has agreed to negotiate with the administration. He noted there was a contract agreement reached back in February that involved a wage freeze that generated between $20 million to $26 million in savings for the city.
The union contends the city is required to enter arbitration under Public Act 312. It’s illegal for public safety officers in the state to strike. The law is designed to force negotiations. Manderfield said she didn’t believe it would be in the public’s interest if representatives from the cash-strapped city were forced into binding arbitration.
Duncan said further pay cuts would be a “recipe for disaster.”
San Berardino CA July 14 2012 Officers serving with the San Bernardino (Calif.) Police Department are bracing for severe cutbacks, following the City Council’s decision to file for bankruptcy.
City leaders now have 30 days to craft a “bankruptcy budget,” after the City Council’s Tuesday decision to file for Chapter 9 protection. In Stockton, which became the largest city to file bankruptcy in the nation in late June, city leaders proposed cutting police wages and eliminating retiree health-care benefits to help balance the ledger.
Similar cuts may be considered in San Bernardino, the head of the city’s police union told POLICE Magazine.
“There’s nothing that’s not on the table,” said Steve Turner, president of the San Bernardino Police Officers Association and a homicide detective.
On Thursday, San Bernardino Police Chief Robert Handy acknowledged the department may have to “modify our staffing models and make changes to our organizational structure,” which may lead to drastic changes in the way the agency operates.
Chief Handy will shift officers from specialized assignments, including gang units, to patrol duty to ensure quick response to reported crimes, reports the Los Angeles Times. He has also suggested eliminating crime prevention programs.
Mayor Pat Morris told KTLA the city will consider outsourcing police services to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. The department’s 294 sworn officers police a city with 211,000 residents.
San Bernardino, from a cash-flow standpoint, is in worse shape than Stockton, city leaders said. The city faces a $45 million deficit, compared to Stockton’s $26-million shortfall, and has less revenue, according to city officials. Stockton’s 325 sworn officers patrol a city of 291,000 residents.
San Bernardino is the fourth California city, along with Stockton, Vallejo, and Mammoth Lakes, that has filed for bankruptcy. And it may not be the last, Michael Coleman, a fiscal policy adviser for the California League of Cities, told The Times.
Coleman and others pointed to rising pension costs as playing a role in the bankruptcy filings. In San Bernardino, the city’s retirement spending has jumped from $1 million in fiscal year 2006-2007—9% of the general fund—to $1.9 million, or 13% of the fund, in 2011-12. Public safety makes up 78% of city spending this year, reports the San Bernardino Sun.
However, mismanagement of funds by city leaders also caused the crisis, Turner said. Turner cited the city’s lavish spending on projects such as a rapid-transit bus line and the Regal Theater.
“In a nutshell, we’re in this condition because of mismanagement by the city,” Turner said. “When all else fails, attack public employees.”
Since 2009, the city’s employee unions gave $10 million in concessions. The police union agreed to a wage freeze and reduced retiree medical benefits—an officer with 20 years of service would get $200 a month. The union also gave up a uniform allowance of $950 per officer.
Sacramento CA June 14 2012 The California Highway Patrol officers union and Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration have reached a furlough agreement to cut pay 5 percent for a year.
Under the deal, the CHP’s roughly 6,300 officers will be furloughed eight hours per month starting July 1.
The union is the first to reach agreement with Brown, who wants pay reduction deals in place with all state worker unions to save an estimated $839 million to help close a budget gap estimated to be at least $15.7 billion.
The governor proposed putting most state workers on 9.5-hour shifts four days per week and closing departments on either Fridays or Mondays.
The agreement with the California Association of Highway Patrolmen signals that other unions representing workers in 24/7 jobs – prison officers, psychiatric technicians, firefighters and others – are under pressure to take similar deals.
It may also complicate talks scheduled with other unions, including today’s scheduled negotiations with SEIU Local 1000, which represents 93,000 workers. Those talks center on Brown’s plan instead of the arrangement worked out with the CHP union.
CHP officers will be able to bank the hours to take later, but their paychecks will reflect the 5 percent pay reduction regardless.
Jon Hamm, CEO of the California Association of Highway Patrolmen, said that the language of the agreement encourages officers to take their banked furlough time before taking paid vacation.
The Brown administration had said that it wanted to avoid a policy that allowed banking furlough hours because that leads to employees taking less paid leave, creating a deferred cost for the state when the leave credits with monetary value are cashed out at the end of an employee’s career.
Until now, CAHP members had never been furloughed. Hamm said union members understand that they need to make a sacrifice, given the state’s $15.7 billion budget crisis.
“Our members’ reaction has been pretty positive (to the furlough),” Hamm said Friday. “I think this is sinking in. They’re saying, ‘I’m lucky to have a job.’ “
The union plans to put the furlough agreement to a ratification vote next week.
GALLIPOLIS, Ohio May 19 2012 – For decades, Ohio’s 10 mental health residential facilities have enjoyed an on-campus police force. But that run comes to an end next month.
The state says it can evolve and save millions. But as WSAZ.com discovered, some say safety and security will be jeopardized.
Custodian Nikki Jones is one of more than 400 employees and 175 residents at the Gallipolis Developmental Center (GDC). She says when her ex-husband recently violated a restraining order and stalked her on-campus with a can of gas, the Center Police Department came to the rescue.
“He does have a history of setting a girl on fire,” Jones said. “And, by the time I got back, they had him arrested.”
Dennis Salisbury wants to keep his job. He’s one of three GDC officers that Ohio will soon eliminate.
The state’s rationale is this: there is little if any criminal activity occurring on the grounds, so they say with evolving, the specialized police officer positions are no longer needed
Salisbury says without an on campus police force security — both inside and outside the grounds — becomes jeopardized.
“We can deal with our people on a one-to-one basis,” he said. “We know our clients.”
Gallia County Sheriff Joe Browning says he doesn’t have the manpower to pick up the slack.
“It’s very helpful to have those officers at that facility,” Browning said.
The state will replace the police with administrators to focus on residential abuse and neglect investigations.
Salisbury said that will not work.
“We’re the police, and we know how to investigate,” he said.
But the state says all police officer investigations will end on June 15.
Ohio says it will save more than $2 million during the next two years by eliminating 30 mental health police officers.
Nashville Mayor warns 200 police officers will be layed off if budget not approved www.privateofficer.com
Nashville TN May 19 2012 Mayor Karl Dean warns that he may have to lay off 200 police officers if his proposed budget and tax increase fail to pass.
His $1.71 billion budget proposal, which would be funded partly by the first property tax increase in years, includes $6.3 million in increases dedicated solely to public safety. The increase would fund a new police DNA forensics lab and 50 police officers hired under a federal policing grant. Dean says if those officers aren’t funded, the city would lose not only those 50 officers, but also an additional 150 who would have to be laid off so the city could repay the grant money.
“We have been able to make, I think, tremendous progress in public safety and now is not the time to back off,” Dean said Wednesday. “We’d be foolish not to fund the fourth year. That would be a dramatic reduction for public safety in Nashville.”
But critics say that Metro government should look to cut elsewhere.
“I would want to allocate resources from other areas to make sure that department was made whole,” said Metro Councilman Robert Duvall. He’s not sure where the money would come from but is certain other departments could absorb the cuts.
Three years ago, Metro government received nearly $8 million to hire 50 police officers through a program known as the COPS grant. The grant is designed to grow police departments by adding new officers and paying for the first three years of their employment. But the offer comes with a catch: The department has to continue funding those officers once the grant runs out or risk having to repay it back to the federal government.
Metro Police Chief Steve Anderson said the additional federal money allowed the department to open its Madison Precinct earlier this year, reduce the size of the North Precinct and better serve both areas.
“That’s the key to driving crime down, to keeping this community safe,” Anderson said.
He said that without the funding, those 50 officers would lose their jobs and 150 more might have to be laid off to cover the $8 million or so the department could be forced to repay for not meeting the obligations of the COPS grant.
That $3.6 million string attached to the grant is why Duvall opposed taking the money three years ago. He said he wasn’t opposed to adding more officers, he just wanted them fully funded by the city ahead of time.
“The question I had was, will we, three years from now, be able to pay for it?” Duvall said. “I said if you pass it, in three years you may have to lay them off because I’m going to fight you every step of the way.”
Duvall said he doesn’t want to lay any officers off and the money can be found in other departments instead of taxpayers’ pockets.
An additional $1 million would go to pay for the first 6 months of a police DNA lab, including equipment and 17 scientists. Police now rely on the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for DNA results, which can take weeks to months for results and often only involve the processing of evidence in violent crimes.
Anderson said having the lab in-house would allow the department to add to the list of crimes where DNA is processed, namely property crimes such as burglary, which have plagued the city in recent years. And, results could come back as quickly as 48 hours.
“The future is here,” Anderson said. “If we wait too many more years, then the future will have left us behind.”
Duvall said he needs to hear more about the DNA lab before he weighs in on it, but he wondered if it could be put off until the city could pay for it without a tax increase.
“Conceptually, I don’t struggle with it,” he said. “But what do we have right now? Can it hold us through this cycle?”
Dean said he doesn’t expect any significant opposition to his public safety plan.
“This is the one I think is the easiest to understand and the clearest,” he said of his budget requests.
Duvall may have other ideas. “I think it’s going to be an interesting process,” he said.
North Las Vegas slashes more than $33 million from its budget-fire-police layoffs looming www.privateofficer.com
NORTH LAS VEGAS NV May 17 2012 – The streets of North Las Vegas may soon have fewer patrols after city leaders voted unanimously to slash more than $33 million from its budget.
Public service is not the only place cuts could be seen.
The city has until June 1 to submit a final budget, and city leaders say the only way they can avoid those cuts is if unions agree to more concessions..
City leaders say up to 100 North Las Vegas Police Department employees, 57 Fire Department employees, and 60 other city employees could receive pink slips.
City officials have been trying for months to get unions representing employees to agree to concessions, mainly to skip raises once again.
The unions, which represent police, firefighters and municipal employees, have refused.
In a surprise move Tuesday, one union, Teamsters Local 14, says it’ll come back to the table.
Although union leaders with the police and firefighters association have not agreed to anything yet, they also say they are still open to negotiations.
But time is running out. The city has 17 days to present that final plan to the state. The final budget will go into effect July 1.
Sacramento CA April 27 2012 The city of Sacramento is proposing to lay off roughly 62 firefighters and 45 police officers to address a budget situation that is among the most dire the city has ever faced.
The public safety layoffs are part of a plan to address a $15.7 million deficit for the fiscal year beginning July 1 in the city’s general fund, the portion of the budget that pays for most basic services. The cuts also include hits to parks maintenance and recreation programs.
“This is not the budget I had hoped to recommend to address next year’s structural deficit,” City Manager John Shirey said.
Shirey said he is attempting to work with the city’s labor unions “to find solutions that would avoid the need for the elimination of positions and consequently programs and services to our community.”
The focus of that effort is likely to be pension benefits. If unions agree to have their employees contribute the entire employee share of their CalPERS benefits, officials said the city could avoid layoffs.
The city picks up most or all of the employee share – in addition to an employer share – for nearly all city workers. Doing away with that arrangement would save the city $13.5 million this year, budget officials said.
Some unions have expressed interest in agreeing to pick up the entire employee share.
The firefighter union appears willing to sit down with the city.
“We’ve made it clear that we’re always willing to sit down and talk about how we can help the citizens of the city and what is the right thing to do,” fire union spokesman Todd Filbrun told me. “Obviously how we move forward is going to take some time to process and formulate.”
The police union said it is engaged in “off the record” conversations with city budget officials and would continue those talks.
“We are willing to sit and listen to any conversation that the city wants to have,” said the union’s acting president, Dustin Smith.
The proposed hits to public safety are the worst the city has seen, even after the City Council voted to lay off dozens of cops last year.
The firefighter layoffs would require the department to decrease the number of personnel on most rigs, from four to three. The fire union has argued that change would increase the time it would take for fire units to begin tackling emergencies.
The city has addressed cumulative deficits of $219 million since 2007, cutting about 1,200 positions – not all through layoffs – and slashing many services.
Falling sales and property tax revenue has played a big role in the cycle. Property tax collections are down $24.3 million since 2009 and sales tax coffers are down $8.7 million since 2007.
The cycle is expected to continue at least another year; budget officials project a deficit of $7.4 million next year.
HANOVER, VA April 18 2012- We already knew about the budget cuts coming for Hanover firefighters, but now we have a better idea how it might affect you.
Firefighters say short staffing is forcing them some days to close stations, which could impact response time.
Station 2 in Beaverdam is closed because there are not enough firefighters to staff it. This is going to be an ongoing problem in many of these rural areas where firefighters will have to come from miles away during an emergency.
Every Tuesday, Judy Johnson comes to Beaverdam to take care of her grandson Henry.
A few weeks ago her heart started to beat irregularly.
“That had happened before but it only lasted about 5 or 10 minutes,” Johnson said. “This time it had been 40 minutes and I got sort of nervous.”
She called 911, but instead of firefighters from nearby Station 2 coming to help, she had to wait for firefighters to drive ten miles from another station in Montpelier.
“It could make a difference,” she said. “I was fine, but for somebody else it could make a huge difference.”
Often rural stations only have two full-time firefighters. If one calls out sick, Hanover Fire will sometimes have to close that station for the day.
Battalion Chief Larry Snyder says volunteer firefighters will sometimes be able to pick up the slack, but this is going to be an ongoing issue.
“You really have to look at the geography of the county,” Snyder said. “(You have to figure out) what people do I have today and what opportunities were somebody calls out sick, we can’t cover something.”
Logically, the farther away on-duty firefighters are, the longer it’s going to take to respond to an emergency.
Johnson says that’s not something she wants to hear.
“I feel comfortable with the station here when I’m keeping a baby,” Johnson said. “It’s sort of sad to know there’s nobody here.”
Hanover firefighters are still trying to figure out how to deal with this latest round of budget cuts. They hope to have a final plan in place in the next two to three weeks.
Hanover fire had its budget cut by six percent. The good news is firefighters say they did receive funding from the county to train more volunteers.
Muscle Shoals AL March 11 2012 Local law enforcement authorities said they left Friday afternoon’s meeting with the vice president of Tennessee Valley Authority security feeling they had just been threatened.
Law enforcement agencies in the Shoals have been asked to assist with responding to emergencies and reports of crimes on TVA property, now that the federal utility has drastically reduced its security operation.
Local authorities met with David Jolley, TVA’s vice president of police and security Friday, to further discuss the issue. And many voiced frustration and concern when they left the meeting at Joe Wheeler State Park in Rogersville.
“It was strongly emphasized that if we don’t or could not patrol TVA property that the in lieu of tax money that comes to this area would be re-evaluated,” Tuscumbia Police Chief Tony Logan said following the nearly three-hour meeting.
“To me, that’s being threatened,” added Sheffield Police Chief Greg Ray.
Representatives from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies throughout north Alabama attended the meeting.
TVA announced two weeks ago it would be eliminate 61 patrol officers, including six supervisors. Six positions in the Shoals are being eliminated, leaving the area with three TVA security employees. TVA plans to use contract security officers to partially offset the losses.
With 2,600 acres on TVA’s Muscle Shoals Reservation and hundreds of acres of TVA property along the Tennessee River in the Shoals, news that patrols were being cut caught local authorities off guard and left them wondering if they would have to patrol what TVA is not patrolling.
Jolley said TVA did not want to be a burden on local authorities, but added they could ask for their help as they have been for years.
Colbert County Commissioner Rex Burleson asked Jolley what would happen if local authorities refused or would not patrol TVA property.
Jolley’s response, according to those in the room, involved the possibility of TVA reviewing the in lieu of tax money that now comes to governments throughout the agency’s seven-state area.
According to TVA records, the agency paid nearly $116 million in lieu of taxes to Alabama in 2011, which includes more than $6 million each to Lauderdale and Colbert counties.
“I don’t think they can do that, but I took it as a threat,” Burleson said.
Colbert County Sheriff Ronnie May said his department does not have the manpower to patrol the TVA-owned property in the county that is outside the reservation.
“I have not changed my stance, which is we will not patrol those areas,” May said.
Much of the meeting between the more than 50 law enforcement representatives and TVA was held after reporters were asked to leave by state Homeland Security and state Emergency Management Agencies officials. The meeting was not considered a public meeting under Alabama’s Open Meetings Law.
Prior to reporters being asked to leave, Jolley said the decision to eliminate the agency’s patrol unit was based on TVA’s finances, which have been on the decline 2007. He said TVA board members made the decision and noted the agency must find ways to be more efficient. Cutting the police force was one of those moves.
He said TVA police would maintain a presence in the area, having an investigator and two inspectors stationed at the reservation in Muscle Shoals.
He added TVA is increasing technology in the security measures.
Jolley said there would be armed contact security guards at Colbert Steam Plant and one at all times patrolling the reservation. He would not answer a question from Rogersville Police Chief Terry Holden about whether those guards would have arrest power.
TVA spokesman Scott Brooks said they would not have arrest power, though. He said the guards can detain someone, and their first call in those situations would be to the investigator or the
Friday’s meeting did not alleviate concerns of most of the law enforcement agents who attended.
“The concerns I had before this meeting, I still have,” Muscle Shoals Police Chief Robert Evans said. “Every department around here could use more manpower, more resources. This will deplete these resources even more.”
Logan said Friday’s meeting was “a waste of time, other than being threatened,”
Ray said the meeting didn’t serve any purpose.
“That’s more than 21/2 hours of my life that I can’t get back,” Ray said.
“I still feel this has been dumped in our laps and we were told to deal with it.”
Miami Fla Jan 16 2012 The day after Miami-Dade County sent layoff notices to 118 police officers, Police Department Director Jim Loftus said his force remains committed to its core service despite what he called a “crisis.”
“This is a big hit for us. It hurts in every possible way, but we will find a way to get through this for the betterment of the people we serve. That’s our focus,” Loftus said.
The layoffs represent roughly 5 percent of the department’s workforce of 2,000 officers. In addition to the 118 layoffs, there were 41 demotions, including some officers moved to public safety aides or other administrative roles.
Lofuts detailed what that means for residents in a nearly hour-long press conference Saturday with reporters. “The ultimate commitment is to the thing I call the road,” he said. “When people call, they want someone to come.”
With that priority, Loftus said he expects that:
• The response time for 911 calls will remain the same for now.
• Police units that combat violent crime will not be affected, nor will the number of police officers who patrol the streets. A patrol officer who has been laid off will be replaced with another officer from another unit.
Yet there will be fewer resources for units that deal with property crimes, economic crimes and community service projects. So it might take longer for Miami-Dade police to follow up on a robbery that occurred at a home while the owner was out of town, for example.
In addition, Loftus said there could be a longer, lasting effect — that the layoffs could make it harder to train the next generation of officers and management.
Recounting anecdotes of officers slated to leave the department — including one whose late dad was a former homicide sergeant and whose mom also worked at the department — Loftus called the layoffs the second hardest thing he has had to do in his career. The first: burying slain officers Amanda Haworth and Roger Castillo last year. “This as it stands right now, it’s No. 2,” he said.
The top cop met with his boss, Mayor Carlos Gimenez, and the mayor’s executive staff Friday evening and discussed how they would tell residents what the layoffs will mean to the community. Loftus said there was no tension or friction, rather a “sense of resignation and sorrow.”
The county also sent pink slips Friday to 17 corrections officers.
Also affected: the Government Supervisors Association of Florida OPEIU Local 100, which represents professional employees and supervisors. Only a handful of those union members received pink slips Friday, but more are expected beginning Tuesday.
The layoffs don’t take effect until Feb. 3, giving Gimenez one more shot — at a Jan. 24 meeting — at persuading county commissioners to impose a controversial concession on members of the powerful Dade Police Benevolent Association to save the jobs. The mayor wants union members to contribute an additional 5 percent of their pay toward healthcare, bringing their total contribution to 10 percent.
As for what Loftus would like to see come out of that Jan. 24 meeting: “I want our police department intact because I think that’s would be the best thing for everybody,” he said, noting that’s what he hoped for during the difficult contract negotiations.
Gimenez’s administration has identified 282 positions to eliminate from the GSAF union’s ranks, though some of them are already vacant. It has taken the county longer to figure out who will be affected by those layoffs because of so-called bumping rights that allow some employees to land jobs in other county departments.
Police and corrections terminations were almost entirely determined by seniority, with the newest officers let go first, though 13 officers who would have otherwise been laid off will be able to look for posts elsewhere in county government.
Earlier, the administration had said that at least 154 police officers and 145 corrections officers likely would lose their jobs.
The corrections department avoided additional layoffs by deciding to transfer inmates from the Women’s Detention Center in Miami, which the county will eventually close, to Turner Gilford Knight Correctional Center east of Doral. The department also plans to phase out a popular juvenile boot camp.
Both unions — after renegotiating their contracts with the county and agreeing to numerous cuts and concessions — hit an impasse over the extra 5 percent healthcare contribution. Gimenez, who had warned commissioners they might have to impose unpopular concessions after approving a lower property-tax rate last year, asked the county commission to impose the concession anyway.
But a majority of commissioners, saying employees had already given up too much to help balance the county’s 2011-12 budget, rejected Gimenez’s proposal on Jan. 5, prompting the layoffs.
“This has been a difficult process,” Gimenez wrote in a memo to commissioners late Friday, “but given that we are over three months into this fiscal year and with other cost-saving alternatives being currently exhausted, these personnel reductions are now a necessary part of fulfilling our legal obligation to balance the budget.”
Benton County MN Dec 25 2011 Benton County will lay off three of its 15 road patrol deputies after the city of Foley opted to go through with its controversial plan to use private security patrols in the city of 2,600 people about 12 miles north of St. Cloud.
The state attorney general’s office tried to mediate an agreement after Foley announced its private patrol plans last fall, but those talks broke off. The Benton County Board voted 4-1 last week to cut the three deputies to save the $260,000 in salaries, benefits and equipment costs, and offset the loss in revenue from its patrol contract with Foley.
“We’ll still be responding to emergency calls in Foley but with less people,” said Troy Heck, the chief deputy with the Benton County Sheriff’s Department. “That will mean longer response times and less of a police presence in Foley, and out in the county and that could lead to more criminal behavior.”
The layoffs will go into effect in early January. Foley appears to be the first city in Minnesota to rely on private guards for basic patrol duties
Sheriff’s deputy road patrols will be eliminated in the town’s $6.8 million budget for 2012.
Several years ago, in response to numerous speeding complaints, the Town Board contracted with Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office to provide road patrols eight hours per day, seven days per week.
The service was included in the tentative budget Supervisor Art Johnson prepared earlier this fall. However, three board members — Rob Pulsifer, Bob Rice, Chuck Gerber — voted to eliminate the $100,000 contract in subsequent budget workshops.
Wilton shared the deputy with the Town of Halfmoon. The change takes effect Jan. 1.
“There may be a patrol in the area,” Johnson said. “The other way we knew there was a patrol in the area. Personally I think public safety is important. I don’t like to see it compromised because of funding issues. I get a lot of complaints from people who call town hall.”
Outgoing Deputy Supervisor Raymond F. O’Conor also favored keeping the patrols.
But Pulsifer said, “We have state police that patrol our town. We’re not a high-crime town. Why are we spending $100,000 for extra police coverage?”
Sheriff James Bowen could not be reached for comment.
The Wilton state police barracks is on Ballard Road. Three of the station’s 19 patrol officers are dedicated to the Northway, with 16 others covering the surrounding area — divided into three different shifts, station commander Sgt. John Bellavigna said.
Other changes from the tentative budget to the budget the board was expected to adopt Thursday include a $10,000 reduction to Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park, eliminating a $5,000 allocation to Wilton Food Pantry and deciding not to fill a vacant laborer’s position in the highway department.
Johnson said the town usually gives the wildlife preserve $90,000 per year, but that it hadn’t spent all the money the past couple years. So the board decided to allocate $80,000 instead.
This was the first year the town planned to allocate money for the newly-created food pantry whose president, Jared Dinsmore, is awaiting the outcome of his race against Steve Streicher for a town councilman’s position.
Pulsifer, Rice and Gerber voted to deny food pantry funding, too, against the wishes of Johnson and O’Conor.
Total spending is up roughly 1 percent from the budget the board adopted last year. No fund balance was needed to balance the budget because of higher-than-expected sales tax revenue.
The 2012 budget features no local town tax for the 30th straight year.
Non-elected employees and full-time elected employees — the highway superintendent, town clerk and town justices — will get 2 percent raises.
No staff additions or major capital projects are called for. Minor improvements to Gavin Park, the town’s recreation complex, will be paid for with park reserves, Johnson said.
Sacramento CA Oct 22 2011 The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is issuing some 26,000 layoff warning notices to its employees over the next few days as it begins downsizing and shifting some of its work to local governments.
It’s not clear how many employees are actually in danger of losing their jobs. Corrections is sending out more notices than the number of positions it expects it will cut, said Judy Gelein, deputy director of human resources for the CDCR.
The state has already started shifting its responsibility for some newly sentenced criminals to counties, creating a “timing issue,” Gelein said, to quickly evaluate Corrections’ personnel needs and make changes.
The department started mailing the notices today to staff with fewer than 10 years of service . CDCR can only process about 6,000 notices per day for mailing, so the bad news will continue going out into next week.
Usually the state issues three warning notices for every position it intends to cut. This time, however, the department cast the net even wider across a broad swath of job classifications. That will give it the flexibility it needs to observe its employees’ contractual and civil service protections while officials fine tune downsizing plans.
State law and union contracts allow at least 120 days after the formal warning before employees can be laid off. Those in affected CDCR positions will have until Feb. 29, Gelein said.
Affected employees have essentially three choices: transfer, demote or face termination.
Some of the 26,000 getting notices — about 7,000 non-custodial workers at overstaffed prisons — will soon receive offers to move to understaffed facilities in exchange for a lump-sum transfer incentive payment, time off and layoff protections.
The department last week asked correctional officers at overstaffed prisons to consider transferring to understaffed facilities in Folsom, Susanville, Crescent City, Soledad and Vacaville. At last count, about 200 of them have volunteered to move in exchange for incentive pay, time off and job safeguards.
Corrections has just updated its website with the latest information on vacant positions in the system and job target for elimination. Click here to open the department’s layoff webpage.
Chicago IL Oct 13 2011 The Chicago Police Department will close three district police stations in 2012 — Wood, Belmont and Prairie — consolidate police and detective areas from five to three and merge Police and Fire Department headquarters and specialized units, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Tuesday.
Instead of having “overlapping functions” in the Police and Fire Departments overseeing anti-terrorism, marine activities, helicopter and bomb and arson, those units will join forces under “single leadership” for “better coordination at key moments,” the mayor said.
The merger of special units and the combined Police and Fire headquarters at 35th and Michigan will create a “more agile bureaucratic structure” that Emanuel called unprecedented.
Emanuel will unveil his 2012 city budget at a special City Council meeting on Wednesday, using a mix of budget cuts and targeted tax and fee increases to erase a $635.7 million shortfall.
“No other city to date has looked at both the headquarters and integrating certain areas into kind of a single public safety mission,” the mayor said, joking that the Police and Fire Departments would maintain “separate football and softball teams”
“The bureaucratic structure that existed, rather than assist, sometimes actually got in the way. … The city is better served from a public safety perspective [by] finding that kind of integration and being more agile.”
The Chicago Sun-Times reported last month that Police Supt. Garry McCarthy was exploring the politically-volatile idea of closing district police stations to save millions and free scores of officers for street duty.
In an exclusive interview with the Chicago Sun-Times on the eve of his budget address to the City Council, Emanuel confirmed that he is closing three stations by “taking the oldest buildings and consolidating them into some of the newest facilities.”
City Hall sources subsequently identified the three stations as Wood, Belmont and Prairie. The Prairie station opened in 1952 and is Chicago’s second-oldest station. Wood opened in 1960. Belmont dates back to 1975.
Sources said the stations were chosen because of their relatively low crime statistics and the ability of nearby stations with similarly low numbers to absorb the operations.
Chicago has 25 police districts, each with its own station. O.W. Wilson, the city’s first civilian superintendent, bit the bullet in 1960 and closed several stations, leaving only 20. Five more have been added since then.
For every station closed, McCarthy estimated that 20 officers could be made available for street duty. The move would also free scores of additional officers now assigned to police areas who support those district operations.
“At the end of the day, the consolidated districts will have the largest police forces — meaning by district manpower,” the mayor said.
Nearly 20 years ago, then-Mayor Richard M. Daley embraced a consultant’s proposal to close seven police stations to free 400 officers for community policing only to back off amid a barrage of protests in the impacted neighborhoods.
Emanuel said Tuesday he is well aware of the politics behind station closings — and the widely-held view among some neighborhood residents that living close to a police station makes them more safe.
But, he also said, “Between the building that’s sitting there and a police officer [who is] driving around, most important from a visual kind of security is the cop driving around, riding around, walking a community. That’s where a community feels safety — not in a building that’s two miles away.”
The decision to consolidate police and detective areas from five to three could dramatically reduce the number of police supervisors. But, McCarthy said he intends to keep them all, but use them more effectively.
If the captain’s union agrees to a “side letter,” every district commander, area deputy chief, and unit chief will have an executive officer, he said. The Fire Department will also go from six areas to five.
“If the commander is on vacation or out sick, somebody’s got to be in charge who’s accountable,” McCarthy said.
“It’s taking the management structure that exists — the same population — and redistributing it into a consolidated, more efficient system.
Currently, the city is divided into five detective “areas,” each of which is responsible for investigating crimes in five police districts.
The city’s detective divisions are Area 1, 5101 S. Wentworth; Area 2, 727 E. 111th; Area 3, 2452 W. Belmont; Area 4, 3151 W. Harrison, and Area 5, 5555 W. Grand. Emanuel and McCarthy would not say which two are being eliminated.
Not surprisingly, Fraternal Order of Police President Mike Shields reacted coolly to the station closings.
“We’re going to be losing manpower in those neighborhoods that are losing districts. It’s going to happen. We all know it. They’re just not telling us right now,” Shields said.
“We can argue that crime is going down. But one of the reasons crime goes down is because of officer presence. That keeps criminals off the street. When they stop going to certain locations, that’s when the criminal comes back into that neighborhood.”
Daley’s final budget called for hiring 200 additional officers — nowhere near enough to keep pace with attrition — but the officers were never hired.
On Tuesday, Emanuel disclosed that his 2012 budget would set aside funding to hire “a class” of police recruits, without revealing how many officers would be hired. And he refused to say what he plans to do with the 1,400 police vacancies.
McCarthy told the Sun-Times in late August that he had been asked to cut at least $190 million from the Police Department’s $1.3 billion-a-year budget and would get only half way there by eliminating vacancies.
Two weeks ago, he retreated from that position, saying, “I don’t want to eliminate positions. I want to hold on to them and not fill them,” then hire officers when economic conditions improve.
Budget Director Alex Holt subsequently told Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown that the 1,400 police vacancies would be placed “essentially in a reserve account.”
Last month, Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) was open to the idea of closing the Wood station, noting that demographics and crime patterns have changed. But, now that Emanuel and McCarthy are planning to close two stations in his ward — Wood and Belmont — he’s livid.
“It basically pulls officers away in either direction from the ward,” Waguespack said. “They’re not even considering rebuilding the [Wood St.] station.”
Ald. Jim Balcer (11th), chairman of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, has said he would entertain station closings if he was assured it would “put more people out on the street.”
“That has to be looked at — as long as the community is safe. That’s the biggest thing. If you can consolidate and put more people in the community to support that community and police officers, yes” he would consider it, Balcer said last month.
Source:Chicago Sun Times
WILLOWS CA Oct 12 2011 — Glenn County Sheriff Larry Jones said a plan to consolidate patrols starting next week may leave the county without an on-duty deputy for brief periods each day, but he hopes it will improve service and safety.
He said the plan will remain in effect for up to three months, then be re-evaluated.
The success or failure of the experiment will be based on how many calls for service the office receives during early morning hours with no active patrol, Jones said.
With mornings becoming light earlier due to the upcoming time change, Jones said he hopes the call volume will naturally diminish somewhat.
Jones said two deputies will be on call to respond during no-coverage times, and will only be deployed to the most serious calls, including threats to life and felonies in progress.
Only one deputy will be on duty at certain other times.
Jones said they’ll be instructed to remain at the Willows office, or the sheriff’s substation in Orland, until called out.
Even then, Jones said, they’ll have to wait until an on-call deputy can arrive as backup.
Jones said there may be delays to some overnight and routine calls, but by making the changes, he said he hopes to have more deputies available to cover the busiest time, which is 6-10 p.m. each day.
He said his plan will lead to a “higher quality response” to incidents, better investigation of crimes, and greater safety for his deputies.
“In addition, we hope it will help us become more proactive, rather than just responding to calls as they come in,” Jones said.
Jones has lost two deputies recently who took higher paying jobs with other agencies. He said he is currently advertising to fill one vacant deputy position, but even with a patrol staff of nine, will still be 50 percent under full strength.
Monday was the last shift for Ronelle Knouse, a veteran deputy who took a job with Glenn County. Jones said he hates to see her leave, but on a bright note said her vacation and sick time will transfer over to her new job, and his office won’t have to cover the payout.
While the Sheriff’s Office and municipal police departments in Willows and Orland rely heavily on each other for mutual assistance, Jones said it seems like his deputies are increasingly asked to back up city cops, who are also understaffed.
“If we lose another deputy, we’ll be in real trouble,” Jones said. “The Sheriff’s Office is traditionally the go-to law enforcement agency in rural counties,” Jones said. “It’s embarrassing that we aren’t able to respond to cover that need.”
Jones said would-be criminals who listen to scanners won’t be able to tell when deputies are going on and off duty, because it will be done by phone, rather than over the radio.
Law enforcement officials throughout Glenn County are betting K-9 units can take up some of the slack in patrol coverage.
Jones was able to hang on to his K-9 unit through recent rounds of brutal budget cuts. Willows has a police dog currently in training and possibly able to hit the streets by December. Efforts to raise money for the purchase of a police dog in Orland are nearing their goal.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla.Oct 6 2011 — The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office won’t confirm details until Wednesday, but the Fraternal Order of Police says 48 officers are being laid off and 23 vacant positions are being eliminated.
According to figures obtained by Channel 4, the cuts represent about 4 percent of the 1,651 Jacksonville officers on the force before the layoffs began.
An unknown number of civilian employees were also expected to lose their jobs.
“We’re going back to numbers of three years ago when we were the No. 1 murder capital of Florida,” said FOP President Nelson Cuba.
Sheriff John Rutherford said he had proposed cutting $16.5 million from what he described as an already lean budget, but the City Council cut another $1.2 million. After the budget vote, Rutherford said the budget reduction would require the elimination of about 100 positions — up to 70 of those sworn officers.
Cuba said some officers were called to turn in their badges, guns, patrol cars and other issued equipment on Monday evening, and more were called in Tuesday to do the same.
None of the officers let go would talk about the process because they were hoping to be rehired when positions become available due to retirements or other reasons.
Rutherford had said that officers with the least seniority would be laid off — mostly patrol officers riding the midnight shift — and that other officers would be moved from other shifts and duties to cover.
Cuba said a lot of the layoffs affect officers in Zone 4 on the Westside. City Councilman Jim Love represents a large chunk of that area.
“I’ve talked to the sheriff personally, and the sheriff said he’s going to do his best to infill from other areas, to make sure that we’re covered,” said City Councilman Jim Love. “He did say what would happen is we might have a little slower service if we have a car accident and nobody is hurt, and the community service officer is going to take a little more time to get there because there (are) less of them.”
“If you’re taking officers from one location, one position, wherever they were at to another, then somebody is going to be lacking,” Cuba said.
Channel 4 was told by the FOP that the officers losing their jobs were from the June 2011 and Spring 2010 graduating classes from the police academy.
Cuba said that Orange and Pinellas counties are hiring certified officers, so many of the officers Duval County paid to be train will go to work for other agencies.
Restaurant owner Bobby Kapuschansky said that last week he asked his customers to sign a petition to the city to try and save officers’ jobs.
“Where Jacksonville has come in the last 5-6 years and in improving the area of the city, to lay off cops now is ridiculous. It’s a giant step backwards,” said Kapuschansky, who owns Carmine’s Pie House in Riverside. “Find the money. Find the money. That’s the answer. The money has to be found. As a community, safety is No. 1, period.”
Rutherford is expected to speak publicly on Wednesday, when the layoffs are expected to be complete.
The number of layoffs, stretching across all departments from the library to water and sewer to the jail, is expected to rise to about 350 by the end of the week. The cuts are likely to spiral even higher in coming months if the county and its 10 labors unions don’t reach new concessionary labor contracts in coming weeks.
Mayor Carlos Gimenez, elected on a pledge to rein in spending, has warned employees and unions that the county will have to lay off substantially more workers if the new labor agreements aren’t in place by Nov. 1. Gimenez has said the tough stance is necessary to ensure the county stays within budget.
In September, the Miami-Dade Commission approved a new $6.14 billion budget proposed by Gimenez that reversed an unpopular property tax rate hike pushed through a year earlier. That cut the county’s revenue, triggering the plan to pare staffing.
The layoffs come as bitter medicine for Gimenez, who has also placed a high priority on spurring economic development and fostering job creation in the county, where unemployment is 12.2 percent.
“Every day that passes [without a contract], the more layoffs will be incurred,’’ said Greg Blackman, president of the Government Supervisors Association of Florida OPEIU Local 100, which represents some 4,800 supervisory and professional employees in two bargaining units. “We had layoffs today and we expect many more to be coming in November and December.’’
Blackman said he expects the county to declare an impasse very soon, because GSAF members last Thursday rejected two tentative agreements recommended by the union leadership. “The reason we recommended the contract was to avoid more layoffs,’’ he said.
If the negotiations hit an impasse, the parties can either agree to go before a special magistrate or bypass that step and go directly before the County Commission, which has final say on labor contracts.
The county has proposed an 8 percent pay cuts for workers, but has allowed various unions to craft their own proposals for achieving cost savings. GSAF had presented a plan calling for employees to, among other things, give back their recent 3 percent raises and to take 11 furlough days in lieu of outright pay cuts.
The pink slips, which typically take effect in 21 days, don’t necessarily mean county employees will be left without a job.
Most county workers can seek to fill vacant positions that are funded in the new budget and can exercise classified service rights to bump other workers from positions. That process creates a rippling effect.
Those who don’t have the ability to bump another worker through their “retention scores,’’ which are based on seniority and performance, can go into the county’s so-called pipeline assistance process and compete for various spots.
TRENTON NJ Sept 18 2011 – Placing their boots down as a symbol of leaving their jobs, dozens of laid off Trenton police officers stood outside the headquarters building this morning for a final muster.
Nearly all were in civilian clothes, and some were holding back tears. They straightened their backs to attention, and returned a final salute from Lt. Leonard Aviles.
“Dismissed,” the choked-up Aviles said, and they broke formation.
The majority of the 105 police officers laid off today showed up for the boots ceremony, watched by some of their colleagues who are remaining on the force. A number of them are facing demotion, and with it a roughly 15 percent pay cut.
The mood was somber, as officers who were staying and officers who were going embraced and wished each other well.
“It’s tough, it’s tough,” Sal Reyes said. “I did this job because I love it.”
“I feel the city has failed us, the state has failed us,” said Sammy Gonzalez, facing layoff at the end of the day with a wife six months pregnant.
“You’re losing part of your family,” said Aviles, a Trenton Anti-Crime (TAC) officer who will be demoted to sergeant. “We are a family here.”
At City Hall half an hour later, Mayor Tony Mack said the officer layoffs unavoidable and called it a new beginning for Trenton.
“This administration has exhausted every avenue to pursue union and police jobs,” Mack said. “Although this is a sad day, it’s a day of recovery as well.”
Acting Police Director Chris Doyle, who had just come from the boots ceremony, said he was devastated.
“I just watched 105 police officer walk out of the police department who were loyal to the city, to ensure their safety,” he said.
The 108 planned layoffs were able to be reduced to 105 because of three retirements, Doyle said. The 30 demotions of lieutenants and sergeants were also brought down to 27.
“We will still maintain, as close as we can, our levels in the patrol bureau to maintain staffing levels and respond to 911 calls,” he said.
Doyle declined further comment, but Mack said residents would see more police on the streets as officers are removed from desk jobs and specialized units.
“They’ll come from other assignments,” Mack said, but could not give details.
“I don’t know,” he said when asked what specific units the manpower would be drawn from. “It’ll be from those different divisions. It depends on how we deploy our officers, we have to maintain our department.”
Things began to change in 2008 after Vallejo, a city of about 116,000 that had lost its biggest employer, the U.S. Navy’s Mare Island shipyard, filed for bankruptcy, said Rooney, a 54-year-old marketing consultant.
“I see prostitutes, pimps and drug dealers out my front window,” Rooney said in a telephone interview Aug. 5. “There’s two on the corner right now.” Her property value has dropped 70 percent in six years, she said.
Vallejo’s experience comes as Central Falls, Rhode Island, proposes $5.6 million in budget cuts after seeking Chapter 9 protection this month and Jefferson County, Alabama, negotiates with creditors to avoid what would be the biggest government filing in U.S. history. There have been five municipal bankruptcies this year, compared with six in 2010, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Prostitution became a growth industry in Vallejo as the San Francisco Bay city slashed its payroll, cutting police by a third, to 90 from 134. The largest municipal bankruptcy in California since Orange County in 1994 has forced law enforcement to focus on violent crime at the cost of so-called “quality-of-life” issues, residents and officials said.
‘Half the People’ “When you have half the number of people, you can only do half the amount of work,” Robert Nichelini, Vallejo’s police chief, said in an Aug. 15 telephone interview. “Where it’s taken a toll is the lower-priority crimes, which have had to take a back seat.”
Prostitution and drug dealing used to be fought by a crime- suppression unit of 12 officers and a sergeant, Nichelini said. Since it disbanded in 2010, arrests for solicitation have dropped from about 96 a year to about 24, he said.
The arrest rate “is very low because it’s labor intensive,” Nichelini said. “You have to have a minimum of five people to make the prostitution arrest, which is a misdemeanor and they’re out of jail within an hour.”
Vallejo, located 24 miles (39 kilometers) north of San Francisco, emerged from bankruptcy on Aug. 5. The city’s general-fund spending fell to $66.2 million this year from $87.1 million in fiscal 2008, when it sought court protection.
The recession has also battered the city, eroding tax revenue and leading to a 12 percent unemployment rate as of June. One in every 124 Vallejo homes had a foreclosure filing in July, according to RealtyTrac Inc., an Irvine, California-based provider of default data.
Safety Worries Matt Russell, 27, a Vallejo resident and private contractor for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in San Francisco, said the city’s police presence has declined since 2008 and “prostitution, especially downtown, is huge.”
Russell said he has considered moving because he’s worried about the safety of his mother, sister and grandmother.
Interim Fire Chief Paige Meyer said his department employs 67, down from 122 in May 2008. Three of eight stations were closed about the time the city filed for bankruptcy.
“What that means to our citizens — there’s no way to sugarcoat it — you’re going to get longer response time,” Meyer said in a telephone interview.
The sharp reduction in city services has prompted residents to fill the void, particularly in law enforcement.
Neighborhood Watchers Vallejo has 302 neighborhood-watch associations with 2,552 members, up from 10 groups with 60 people in 2009, said Tony Pearsall, executive director of the Fighting Back Partnership, a Vallejo-based nonprofit social-services group.
“They’re doing crime prevention themselves because there is no crime-prevention unit in the police department anymore,” Pearsall, a retired Vallejo police captain, said by telephone.
Another group, the Central Core Restoration Corp., hired two armed security guards beginning in 2008 to patrol Georgia Street, the city’s commercial center, on bicycles during business hours.
“They help us with the panhandlers, loitering and assist us in calling the police if we have more serious infractions,” Janet Sylvain, the group’s president, said in an Aug. 11 interview at her upholstery shop, Pieced on Earth.
About half the stores along Georgia Street stand vacant and existing shop owners say they are scraping by or relying on the Internet or out-of-town business to generate sales.
While the street was almost deserted on a weekday afternoon in August, around the corner, the Greenwell Cooperative, a medical-marijuana dispensary, had a steady flow of customers.
Pot and Prostitution “You know the only businesses in town making money? Pot and prostitution — that’s it,” said Matt Shotwell, 30, who opened the dispensary in January 2010 and keeps a bong on the desk in his office.
Shotwell’s dispensary, which also sells pot-infused barbecue sauce, olive oil and cherry slushies, draws about 250 customers a day, he said.
“I’m bringing foot traffic down here,” Shotwell said in an interview.
Vallejo, which doesn’t have local laws controlling medical- marijuana dispensaries, has seen an influx of about 20 such businesses, according to a city estimate. Three shops are within four blocks of Ruth Rooney’s home.
“They came here and feel they’d be under the radar,” Phil Batchelor, Vallejo’s interim city manager, said in an interview this month at City Hall. “But we’re going to change all that. We’re stepping up enforcement, we’re going to tax them and we’re right now looking at setting up zoning requirements.”
With the bankruptcy behind them, city officials said they are taking steps to rebuild Vallejo and its image.
The City Council has approved a November ballot measure asking voters to add a 1 percent local sales tax for 10 years, in addition to the 7.38 percent levy already on the books. It would raise $9.7 million annually, said Deborah Lauchner, Vallejo’s finance director.
Vallejo’s council has also agreed to put a ballot measure before voters in November to impose a business-license tax on the dispensaries of as much as 10 percent of gross sales.
The city has created an economic development department, formed a prostitution task force, and is hiring back some firefighters and police officers.
Kaiser Grant Kaiser Permanente, the largest U.S. nonprofit health management organization, gave the city a grant of about $736,000 that will be combined with federal funds to hire three police officers, Batchelor said. Kaiser operates the Vallejo Medical Center. The city also got a federal grant to hire nine firefighters and reopen a fire station.
On Georgia Street, a sign in the front window of the Procyon Gallery depicts a pair of women’s boots and reads “Prostitution Free Zone.”
The owner, Greg Leopold, 64, said he earns just enough from his art and framing business to pay the bills and has no plans to move despite the city’s problems.
“I’m stupid and I’m stubborn and I still think the same way about Vallejo as 20 years ago, which is this place has so much potential,” Leopold said. “It can’t stay like this. You’re in the Bay Area for God’s sakes. It can’t stay like this even by mistake.”
THIELLS NY Aug 4 2011 — North Rockland schools in the fall will lose all their school resource officers at once as a result of the budget crunch in the towns and the district.
The school district has maintained three school resource officers until recently: one at North Rockland High School, another at Fieldstone Secondary School and a third at James A. Farley Middle School.
The district and the Town of Haverstraw have been sharing the cost for the positions at North Rockland High School and Fieldstone Secondary School.
And the Town of Stony Point has solely funded the officer at James A. Farley Middle School in Stony Point. This year, the school district decided to cut funding for the two school resource officers as it developed the 2011-12 budget.
Haverstraw Supervisor Howard Phillips said this week that without the district’s partial reimbursement, the town couldn’t maintain the positions. The two school resource officers will become part of the patrol unit, he said.
“We are trying to watch every single penny,” Phillips said. “We understand it’s a predicament to the schools, but if we can’t receive reimbursement , then we have to pull the officers.”
The district stopped funding the officer at Farley at the end of the 2006-07 school year because other middle schools in the district did not have them, and the Town of Stony Point has been coming up with money to continue the program, getting help from grants in some years.
But as the town struggled through the 2011 budget process, Stony Point Supervisor William Sherwood pledged to reduce the size of its Police Department.
Stony Point police Chief Brian Moore said Tuesday that the school resource officer program at the middle school had been discontinued.
North Rockland schools officers are not the only ones affected by the economy.
Orangetown is planning to consolidate two school resource officer positions — one at Tappan Zee High School and the other at Pearl River High School — into one. One detective will be assigned to the job, and would also spend time in police investigations when needed, said Orangetown’s Finance Director Charles Richardson, who discussed the matter with Capt. Robert Zimmerman and Lt. Donald Butterworth of the Orangetown police.
The issue is we have fewer officers than we used to,” Richardson said, adding that the school officer positions at these schools have been funded by the town, while the cost for the officer at the Rockland County BOCES Gateway Academy has been mostly reimbursed by the Board of Cooperative Educational Services.
Cost arrangements for school resource officers vary.
The Town of Clarkstown is in charge of school resource officers at Clarkstown North, Clarkstown South, Nanuet and Nyack high schools as well as Felix Festa Middle School, and the school districts have been paying about one-third of the officers’ salaries, said Sgt. Harry Baumann of the Clarkstown police.
“We have a good relationship with school boards and districts, and there has been no talk of them pulling the reimbursements that they give to the town,” he said.
The Town of Ramapo funds school resource officers at Suffern and Ramapo high schools, and the Village of Spring Valley pays for the position at Spring Valley High School.
Lt. Jack Bosworth of the Spring Valley police said the cost has been considered a long-term investment because School Resource Officer Francis Brooke, who is also in charge of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program at Eldorado and Elmwood elementary schools, has been playing an important role not only in school security but in Spring Valley’s policing.
“There’s a lot of kids that he’s making a connection with all the time,” Brooke said. “We can use him as a resource to help solve problems that we have here in Spring Valley.”