Cuts take officers off streets

Fewer officers will be patrolling city streets as the Police Department looks to save money by not replacing dozens of retiring officers, but a showdown looms for further cuts to public safety.

Mayor Gavin Newsom introduced his proposed $6.5 billion city and county budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The budget, introduced June 1, is under review by the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee, which holds hearings until June 30, when it plans to send a revised budget to the full board for approval.

Newsom’s proposed budget avoids layoffs of sworn police officers, but there will be no Police Academy classes until 2011. As officers retire, the number of sworn officers is expected to dip below 1,900, far fewer than the 1,971 officers mandated by the City Charter.

“The Police Department anticipates 78 retirements throughout the year, but does not plan to replace the retiring police officers,” according to a budget analyst’s report.

Also, police Chief George Gascón will be tasked with cutting overtime by about $5 million next fiscal year. The Police Department regularly puts officers on overtime to cover special events such as protests and for celebrations such as Halloween.

In order to streamline operations, Gascón is banking on the new CompStat management model to make up for having fewer officers. There’s $1 million in the budget to fund the relatively new program.

But the Police Department could face much deeper cuts, as other departments face even-more-drastic cuts. The mayor is anticipating that the police union will approve $20 million in wage concessions by next week.

Supervisor John Avalos, chair of the Budget and Finance Committee, has asked the budget analyst to provide recommendations for two scenarios, one for cutting $6 million and another for cutting $12 million, above and beyond what has already been cut.

“We are really grappling with a shortage of funds in our revenues all over The City,” Avalos said this week. “We have to find cost savings in our budget across other departments.”

SF police funding

$446 million Proposed Police Department budget

$398 million Portion from general fund

$394 million Amount of salaries and benefits

1,971 Charter-mandated number of full-duty officers

1,947 Actual numberof full-duty officers

78 Expected retirements

1,869 Full-duty officers after retirements

Source: Police Department

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