Police propose eliminating youth programs, officers to balance budget

GLENDALE — Police officials on Tuesday proposed eliminating youth programs, including crime prevention activities for teens and Explorer training, to help balance a citywide budget deficit.

Glendale police used overtime funding to staff the Student Training as Role Models and Police Activities League, which were dedicated to keeping at-risk youth out of trouble by engaging them in sports and school activities. The Explorer program allowed students aged 14 to 21 to join the department and experience police work.

“It is a lot of effort to put these programs on,” Glendale Police Ron De Pompa said during a city budget session.

He added that while the programs were important, they served few students and teens, and officer involvement was often sporadic because it was based on overtime costs.

Still, slashing the youth programs, along with an hourly volunteer coordination staffer, would save $72,111, according to the proposal to the City Council.

Council members expressed concerns about eliminating the programs, which they said have helped many at-risk teens.

“It’s having that sworn-police-officer interaction with the youth that makes a difference,” Councilman Frank Quintero said.

Mayor Laura Friedman suggested reaching out to community organizations that may host the programs with the occasional police presence.

Along with the proposed elimination of youth programs, De Pompa also suggested cutting an officer position dedicated to investigating and filing misdemeanor cases. That would save $202,310.

De Pompa said the position would be reorganized within police units.

Police officials also proposed relocating a police lieutenant, who is set retire, to the role of a civilian administrator, who would oversee technology and communication in the department.

That move would save the department $95,341.

The Police Department proposed a total $369,762 in cuts — far less than the reductions proposed by other city departments, including Community Services and Parks.

And even with the proposed cuts, the Police Department’s budget is slated to increase from $73.9 million in 2010-11 to $76.9 million in 2011-12.

The budget increase was mostly attributed to the swelling costs of health and retirement benefits.

But De Pompa said that his department continues to operate with a thin staff, and that the new proposals would reduce sworn personnel to the same level in 1952, when one chief, four captains and 10 lieutenants were in the department.

“We need every single resource we have,” De Pompa said.

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