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Police prepare for possible cuts

Ben Godar

City leaders will meet tonight to discuss when and where budget cuts

might come from, but Burbank Police have already taken steps to

reduce their expenditures.

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Police officials have frozen six open positions for sworn officers

of its 168 sworn officers, spokesman Sgt. Bruce Speirs said. Each

position is for an entry-level officer, he said. The move is a result

of a directive from the city for departments to look for ways to

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reduce their budgets in anticipation of state budget shortfalls.

“For the police department, our biggest expenditure is personnel,”

he said. “The easiest thing to do was to hold back on a few

positions.”

The openings came about through natural attrition, with no

officers being laid off, and Speirs said the vacancies are not

causing significant problems and the positions could quickly be

filled once the department gets the go-ahead from the city.

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“This is not something that hinders us in the long-term,” he said.

In addition to freezing the positions, police are extending the

lifespan of vehicles by one year, with patrol cars being replaced

every three years instead of every two. While the vehicles are

well-maintained and will not pose additional safety risks as a result

of staying in service, Speirs said being driven 24 hours a day takes

a toll.

“I’ve seen them two years old, with more than 100,000 miles on them,” he said.

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While police officials do not know how much they will ultimately

be asked to trim from their budget, city officials have said some

departments might be asked to reduce by 10%.

The vacancies will save the department about $480,000, while

extending the fleet life will save an estimated $375,000, Speirs

said. That equals just more than 3% of the department’s $27-million

budget.

The current cutbacks also come at a time when police have raised

deployments in response to heightened concerns about possible

terrorist attacks. While police said placing restrictions on

officers’ ability to take time off has meant relatively little

overtime was needed to fill the additional deployments, Financial

Services Director Derek Hanway said the additional expense could

require more appropriations from the city.

While Police Chief Thomas Hoefel declined to comment on what

additional cuts might be made until after tonight’s meeting, Speirs

said contingency plans have been made.

“We’re attempting to provide the city with recommendations on

where to cut because we know our operations the best,” he said.


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