The City of Fresno Police Department is demoting 25 supervisors from the rank of Chief to Sergeant. The City of Oakland is laying off 140 officers to close their budget deficit. The City of Sacramento Police Department is headed toward layoffs and the City of Stockton has sent layoff notices to 55 sworn officers; seven supervisors were demoted and 35 civilian employees of the department were also laid off. There are about 20 more examples of police agencies facing layoffs or demotions of supervisors and detectives to close budget deficits in cities across the state.
There were five (5) Oakland officers attending the Internal Affairs Class I attended in Campbell last week. I listened as they detailed the planned layoffs of officers and demotions of supervisors. This is all after the City spent over $70 million dollars hiring 170 officers to bring their department to full staffing. Those in attendance did not have much confidence things would change and they were preparing for the loss of 140 SWORN officers.
The above examples are all worse case scenarios and taken from headlines and web postings over the last couple of weeks. Many are knee jerk reactions to budget deficits from City Council's and Mayor's across the State. The threats of layoffs and demotions are scare tactics and attempts to paint unions and their members as greedy, selfish, uncaring employees who refuse to help save their respective Cities. The common theme presented by these elected members of city governments, is that the budgets of the public safety departments, is larger than all others and thus it makes more sense to cut them.
I am not saying there is not a financial crisis in cities and states across the nation. I am not saying there is not a need to share in the cuts and reshaping of budgets and expenditures. I am not implying we should not participate in reductions of wages or benefits to help keep the city afloat. But I take exception to a mayor who threatens the layoffs of 124 police officers and a similar number of firefighters from a city already decimated with the exodus of almost 250 sworn public safety officers (140+ Police and 88+ Fire) who have retired prematurely. I take exception at a city government that excludes its employees in the decision making processes of these cuts and reductions in benefits. I take exception to a mayor who is using the current financial and economical crisis to further his agenda of eliminating the DROP for purely POLITICAL reasons.
The mayor and city council has yet to share in the cuts the rest of us have been subjected to. The mayor continues to receive his retirement payments as well as his full salary. Yes, he will tell everyone who will listen he took a 6% cut to his regular pay. We are not that stupid mayor; that cut amounted to NOTHING comparatively speaking. Don't get me started on the city council and their refusal to take the same cuts as the rest of us. Their latest slap in the face, orchestrated Marti Emerald, to take reserve funds to make up the anticipated 6% cut, is a complete joke. They have yet to pare their staffs or office expenses. The mayor's office is larger than any mayor's office in City history.
When elected officials begin to act honestly and inclusive; unions and their members can join together in seeking solutions to the mounting problems facing us all. When true honesty and transparency is reflective of the mayor's every action and word; workable solutions will be openly discussed and implemented without fear. To even utter potential layoffs of safety personnel in the City of San Diego today, is indicative of how far from reality and honesty the mayor sits. We have a long way to go and with the current lack of leadership and truth in government (you do know I mean TOTAL LACK of truth) the turn-around may not occur in any of our lifetimes.