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OXNARD : Police Association Backs Tax Increase

The Oxnard Peace Officers Assn. endorsed a ballot measure Thursday that would increase utility taxes by 5% and prevent the Oxnard Police Department from eliminating 27 positions next year.

Unless voters approve the special tax, which would add about $5 million annually to Oxnard’s coffers, the Police Department would be forced to eliminate the positions, which include a drunk-driving task force and a motorcycle traffic unit, said Bill Lewis, president of the 175-member association.

Officers in those units would be assigned to patrol duty if the measure fails June 5, Lewis said.

“We need more police officers in Oxnard, and instead we are facing more cuts,” Lewis said. “Soon, we’re not going to have enough people to respond to all the calls that come in.”

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More than $1.4 million would be cut from the police budget, city officials have said. Other departments face similar budget reductions as Oxnard strives to avoid a $2.7-million deficit brought on primarily by several unexpected expenditures, including a $690,000 increase in the cost of the workers’ compensation program.

If Measure C is not approved, the Police Department will lose a four-officer drunk-driving task force, a six-officer motorcycle traffic unit and a nine-officer field tactical team, while other positions will remain vacant, Lewis said.

“The biggest challenge facing law enforcement in Oxnard today is drugs, crime and Measure C,” Lewis said.

He said off-duty police officers plan to go door-to-door this weekend to try to convince voters to approve the measure. “We don’t think people really know what the consequences will be if those budget cuts are approved,” Lewis said.

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