If 149 Cincinnati police officers are laid off this summer, as the city plans, the department will be smaller than it has been in almost 60 years, says the Cincinnati Enquirer. That could mean the city focuses only on the basic service police officers provide – responding to 911 calls. That's the one thing officers can't stop doing. The rest, like organizing prostitution stings and special targeted drug busts, experts caution, could disappear. Investigations could take longer if detectives move back to the street.
Just three years ago, the force had 1,135 officers; since then attrition – no new recruit classes and positions' going unfilled – has cut the force to 969. The latest proposed cuts would reduce it another 15 percent, to 820. After the cut, Cincinnati would employ 2.8 police officers for every 1,000 residents, about the same as similar-sized Pittsburgh, with 2.9 officers for 1,000 residents. It's a situation brought on by years of structurally imbalanced budgets and City Council decisions to spare police and fire personnel while most other things were cut. The two public safety departments use roughly two-thirds of the city's operating budget, which faces a $35 million deficit.