Holloway Proposes $2-million in Police Cuts
By Carl Wagenfohr
CLEARWATER - Responding to the City Council's direction to reduce the budget of the Clearwater Police Department (CPD), Chief Tony Holloway presented a basketful of proposed cuts during Monday's worksession.
Holloway's budget trimming exercise amounted to about $2.3-million, but $500-thousand of that would be used to cover the salaries of positions that would be vacated by attrition over the next year.
Holloway dug deep to find the net savings of $1.8-million in fiscal year 2010/11, reducing or eliminating a number of relatively low-cost items including carpet cleaning, pagers, memberships, subscriptions, donations, volunteer recognition and copier paper.
But the biggest single contributor to Holloway's budget cuts was headcount, with the elimination of 26.9 full time equivalent positions. Of that number, 11 are sworn officer positions, including 1 Sergeant, 3 Detectives and 7 Patrol Officers.
Holloway cautioned that the loss of 3 detectives would reduce CPD's proactive efforts on economic crimes, crimes against children and families, and misdemeanors, resulting in delayed investigations and extended turnaround time for reports.
He said that the efforts of CPD's patrol officers will become less proactive because of the elimination of 7 officers. Holloway would reduce the midnight shift by 4 officers, and eliminate 1 officer each from K-9, traffic, and downtown bike patrol. The downtown bike patrol would operate only during the day, Holloway said.
Cuts would also be made in the numbers of police service technicians and communications center operators.
Beyond the proposed reductions in his department, Holloway is looking to CPD's labor union, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), to make some budget-cutting concessions.
At a collective bargaining session last week, the FOP representatives agreed to forego a general wage increase next year. In addition, they were asked by the city to consider freezing the "step" pay plan next year, saving the city $238,000.
Union representatives were also asked to consider eliminating special teams pay ($403,000), and the 2-hour minimum compensation for standing-by for court appearances, a perk that the city claims to be a "significant percentage" of CPD's $750,000 overtime budget.
Should the FOP agree to reopen their contract and make the concessions requested by the city, Holloway's 2010/11 budget could be further reduced by nearly $1-million.
During Monday's worksession, Vice Mayor John Doran observed that the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office (PCSO) proposal was solicited with instructions to not decrease the numbers of patrol officers and detectives that would serve Clearwater, but that Holloway's proposed budget "seems to suggest that a substantial number of the savings come from reducing the number of patrol and the number of detectives."
"I'm trying to reconcile on one hand what we told the Sheriff, and on the other hand what you're proposing," Doran said, "I'm still struggling with trying to understand that."
"As a Police Chief can I make this happen?" Holloway responded, "Yes. But I told you earlier this is going to cut into our proactive time. You're not going to see any reduction in the work that the officers are doing out there, you're going to see a reduction in the proactive [programs]."
Proactive time was described last year by Matrix Consulting in their report on CPD efficiency as a key measure of effective patrol deployment. "The concept of proactivity is very important in law enforcement - if field personnel are committed a large proportion of the time, they have little capability to impact the root causes of crime, to anticipate crime (when analysis shows there to be some predictability) or to work with citizens," Matrix wrote.
Holloway will present his proposed budget cuts again at tonight's City Council meeting. With concern expressed only by Doran during Monday's meeting, the Council appears ready to support Holloway's proposed $2.3-million budget cut despite having a proposal from the Pinellas County Sheriff that would save $10-million with a promise that service would not be impacted.
"I would pledge to you that the levels of service that we would provide to the City of Clearwater are equal to or greater than you currently have," Sheriff Jim Coats vowed to the Council during their May 13th meeting.
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