Deep budget cuts are forcing Massachusetts police departments to wipe out gang units, trim detectives from investigation teams, pull back on community outreach, and eliminate specialized patrols, as cities pare back to the most basic form of police work: putting uniformed officers in cruisers for patrol and 911 response, reports the Boston Globe. Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis announced that 40 cadets and 20 civilian employees would be laid off July 1. The department could also disband its horse and bicycle units to help close a $20 million budget gap in the next fiscal year.
The budget cuts will be most acute in working-class and formerly industrial cities, communities such as New Bedford, Fall River, and Brockton, which rely most heavily on state aid to provide basic services. Facing an ever-growing budget deficit this fiscal year and next, Governor Deval Patrick has slashed local aid and called for eliminating a grant program that funds extra officers, programs, and equipment to enhance community policing. “This is the reality of what we’re facing,” said A. Wayne Sampson, a former chief who runs the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association. “Most of our outreach programs are going to be eliminated just by the sheer lack of personnel to do them.”