Local budget cuts are prompting debates across the nation about the proper level of police services. In one of the latest controversies, a coalition of municipal labor unions from Nassau County, Long Island, warned residents yesterday that cost-saving measures have already hurt public safety efforts and that proposed layoffs could erode essential services, Newsday reports.
County Executive Thomas Suozzi has said that in order to close a budget gap predicted to be more than $65 million in 2004, he will lay off more than 600 county employees and 148 police officers. Six unions cite dwindling police, correction and ambulance services. They said administration officials have reduced gang units, cut hours for 911 operators and implemented fewer patrols at the Nassau County Corrections Center. “We hope the public knows about the devastating cuts that have already been made, and any further cuts would be dangerous,” said Charles Loiacono of the Nassau County Coalition of Labor.
A county spokesman says that under “no circumstances, regardless of what the unions say, will the public safety of our residents and the personal safety of our police officers ever be compromised by any layoffs.”