The police union in the city of Sacramento reached a tentative deal on Wednesday to concede a five percent cost of living pay raise to protect the jobs of 67 police officers.
The deal is in the spirit of what needs to be done in many city departments facing budget cuts throughout California.
Sacramento’s police union boss Brent Meyer, quoted in The Sacramento Bee, said that his organization was “relieved that we are coming up with a viable alternative to the prospect of laying off officers.”
Good for the officers who will keep their job, and good for the city who will keep an adequate number of police officers on the streets.
Public safety should be the last thing a city ever cuts – no matter how bleak the times. It is the foundation of city services. Without proper law enforcement and fire/medical services, cities will struggle to function, attract businesses or retain residents. Political games and posturing should end when your constituency is potentially in harms way.
Stripping down a police force of its officers turns the department into a reactionary force – used only in response to violent events that immediately endanger the public. With layoffs, proactive crime prevention is lost.
Ironically, the more officers who are laid off in a city, the more difficult and dangerous the jobs of police officers become.
You can read more about crime fighting on a budget in PublicCEO’s exclusive three-part series by Beige Luciano-Adams. In her piece, Luciano-Adams writes:
Typically commanding a large portion of overall spending, public safety budgets across the state are vulnerable – except maybe in Los Angeles, where Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa sailed into his reelection on historically low crime levels. Faced with the city’s looming $427-million budget deficit – which might hit nearly a billion in 2010-11 – Villaraigosa now plans to cut every service sector except public safety, holding fast to his pledge to raise the number of sworn officers on the streets to 10,000.
In Los Angeles, says Robert Stern, Executive Director of the Center for Government Studies, the protection of public safety funding is “pretty much a reflection of what people in the city want – they think there’s a lot of waste in other departments and that LAPD and LAFD are necessary.”
The Stockton Police Officers Association reached a deal last week to postpone the layoffs of 29 officers, agreeing to forgo back pay and other allowances. In San Bernardino, budget problems threaten positive steps made by city police programs.
Sacramento’s tentative deal will be voted on by union members on Thursday night.
Cities such as Sacramento will have to negotiate salary concessions or find additional tax revenue to ensure that public safety is never cut. Sacramento’s budget issues were not created by the police department, yet they are taking concessions to help relieve the problem. It’s a show of commitment to the city, and one that other city departments need to follow.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said in The Bee: “The police officers’ union understood what we all know and that is that it’s going to take some sacrifice from everyone to solve this budget.”
Many city and state workers in California have already made pay concessions. It’s refreshing to see the Sacramento police union make an altruistic compromise in the best interest of their city.
James Spencer can be reached at jspencer@publicCEO.com