With the ax falling this week at City Hall to help meet a $14 million deficit, no one was immune.
That includes Naperville police. The department lost ten positions, eight of which were vacant, in cost-cutting throughout both operating and non-operating agencies.
Although the positions lost are not in the patrol unit, it still has Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 42 officials and city officials in disagreement over how citizen safety will be affected.
“We’re going to have somewhere between 12 and 13 officers on the street at one time,” said Tamara Cummings, the Naperville FOP attorney. “That’s less than the optimal…the optimal is more like 14…Crime goes up in an economy like this. You have less officers responding to more crime, longer response times. That’s not good. That’s not good for anybody.”
On the other side, City Manager Doug Krieger says safety is still the main concern.
“We have been very sensitive to maintaining the presence on the street, and for those very reasons is why we’ve taken those positions from management and investigations,” said Krieger.
Although eight positions are vacant…two new officers that graduated from the police academy in December will find themselves in the unemployment line next week.
Union members aren’t happy about the way the layoffs were handled. They wanted prior notification.
“I would think that a topic that is as important as public safety there would have been more of an attempt to get some public comment, have an open meeting, a town meeting,” said Cummings. “Anything to have gotten some feedback. . . (the citizens) are really the ones that we’re talking about here.”
Once again in this war of words, the city had its rebuttal.
“We’re looking forward to any concessions or ideas with respect to efficiencies that they would have,” said Krieger. “They know where the chief’s office is. There know where my office is. We welcome input from all employees not just the police force.”
In a newspaper ad taken out by the union, they say the city could have avoided the cuts by using over 20 million dollars they have in reserve money.
Krieger and other City Hall sources, though, say that is not the case. Using reserves is not only a temporary solution, but it would also greatly hurt Naperville’s credit rating and deplete money that is currently being saved with prime interest rates on current loans and bonds.
Either way, Union sources say that the F.O.P.’s main goal is to let the public decide. Even if the public’s choice would be to keep the cuts and go with the reduced size in force, that would still be a decision made by the citizens, and that’s enough for the union.
The next step regarding the layoffs is discussion on January 19th at the next city council meeting and information about that meeting can be found on the city of Naperville’s website.
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