Monday, December 17, 2001

Police increase could be reversed


Council revisits plan to add 75 officers to force

By Gregory Korte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati City Council may drop a pre-election plan to hire 75 new police officers as it begins to debate ways to slice millions from the city budget.

        Councilman David Crowley said he would introduce — or at least sign on to — a motion today that would reverse the council's 5-4 vote in October that followed months of unprecedented violence on city streets.

        That vote directed the city to bring the police division's strength up to 1,075 sworn officers, starting with spending $583,000 to begin hiring up to 40 officers late next year.

        The full budget impact of hiring 75 officers would be $6 million in 2004. Going into 2002, City Council must make substantial cuts to overcome a $17.7 million deficit in a projected overall budget of $993 million.

        “It's too costly, and some pretty good programs will need to be cut to pay for it,” Mr. Crowley said Sunday. “And no one has proven to me that sheer numbers (of officers) will make a difference.”

        Mr. Crowley, a Democrat elected Nov. 6, joins returning council members Paul Booth, Minette Cooper, Alicia Reece and Jim Tarbell, who voted against the proposal on Oct. 3.

        Two yes votes, Phil Heimlich and Charlie Luken, aren't on City Council anymore — Mr. Heimlich because of term limits and Mr. Luken because the new powers of the “stronger mayor” system give him a veto, but not a vote, on City Council.

        Councilman John Cranley, who first proposed the 75 officer plan, said he expects a “showdown” this week on the issue.

        “I respect their position. But we're going to have a fair and honest debate about the priorities of our city — whether it's basic services and safety, or to continue what we've been doing and drive people out of the city,” he said.
       

Hiring officers "costly'
               The Finance Committee, chaired by Mr. Cranley, will debate the proposal today at 1 p.m. While the city administration agreed to abide by

        council's October vote, the police hiring issue was never fully resolved.

        Indeed, Police Chief Tom Streicher never said publicly that the department needs the additional officers — even after the wave of shootings and other drug-related violence that followed the April riots. The city manager has urged City Council to reconsider.


              



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