Budget cuts are forcing a diminishing number of police officers to face rising numbers of gangs and street crimes in the city of Salinas.

The city of Salinas has reported an increase in gang-related homicide, and won’t see addition law enforcement help due to cuts of local government services.

The question has become: How many police officers and emergency services can be stripped from a city or county before it fails to function?

City Manager of Salinas, Artie Fields, claimed the city saw six gang-related homicides just last week and have seen 21 so far this year.

“We are on track to break the city’s record of 26 gang-related homicides in a year,” Fields said.

See the 90-day report police report provide by the city.

Salinas is just one example of police officers being forced off the street, as the city is freezing 25 officers.

Salinas Mayor Dennis Donohue said gang violence has always been an issue in Salinas, but this year has been particularly worse.

Donohue explained that the city has been understaffed for years, which in his opinion has hurt its ability to provide emergency services to the public.

“The cuts suck air out of the department,” Donohue said.

The Monterey County Sheriffs Department has come to the aid of the city, reassigning cars and providing extra staffing to Salinas.

The California Highway Patrol and the Probation Department have also gathered around Salinas, which Donohue called, “a home of an organized crime syndicate.”

Fields explained that extra officers will help, but more permanent officers are needed.

“With more officers on the street, the gangsters tend to go into hiding,” Fields said.

Fields said the tables need to be turned on the gangs, “They are in control right now.”

Salinas was able to hire nine police officers because of stimulus money given to the city.

“That will help a lot,” said Fields. “Salinas is a battle zone.”

The city council has approved to put a sales tax measure on the November ballot to hire 84 sworn officers.

Donohue feels the community as a whole is being given the opportunity to change what is happening in Salinas.

Fields claimed that without, “100 percent gang violence”, Salinas would be experiencing better times, “We would be one of the safest cities in the state,” said Fields.

Louis Dettorre can be reached at ldettorre@publicceo.com