Budget Shortages Force Cuts In Proactive Policing

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Cities with budget shortfalls are cutting police forces and closing innovative law enforcement units that helped reduce crime in the 1990’s, reports the New York Times. This year, Cleveland has laid off 250 police officers, 15 percent of its total force. Pittsburgh has lost one fourth of its officers in three years, and Saginaw, Mich., has lost almost a third in that time. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has let go 1,200 deputies in the last two years, leading it to close several jails and release a number of inmates early. Houston’s police chief laid off 190 jail guards in July and assigned their duties to existing police officers. “It’s been very painful and emotional,” said Ed Lohn, Cleveland police chief, whose father was also a policeman. “We’ve had to cut some successful programs and go back to an older style of policing, doing patrols and answering calls for service.”

Federal cutbacks are notable. Since 1995, Cleveland has received $34 million for new police officers. This year it will receive only $498,000 from Washington for all police programs, and President Bush’s proposed budget would cut that in half. Donald Pussehl Jr., the police chief in Saginaw, summed up what many police officials are saying: “We are going backwards, and that’s really unfortunate. We are having to discontinue many of the proactive strategies like community policing, which we developed in the 90’s, and just go back to basics like sitting in patrol cars waiting for calls for service after a crime has been committed.”

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/27/national/27police.html?adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1090922392-/aTy0lHRY3M

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