Columbus Police Department Facing Deep Cuts
The Columbus Division of Police predicts it will have to cut nearly 300 officers if voters reject a proposed increase in the city income tax. Columbus voters will decide the issue in August but police commanders are planning a worst-case scenario.
If current fiscal trends continue, the Columbus Police Department claims it will have to lay off 297 police officers next year. Police Chief Walter Distelzweig says choosing where to make cuts wasn't easy. "This is devastating for our division. You know, none of us signed on for this kind of a task, but we've been presented with it and we will move on."
The proposed cuts represent about 15% of the current number of officers. The Traffic and the Strategic Response Bureaus would be almost completely eliminated. Distelzweig says he is not trying to scare voters, but he says they deserve to know what might happen if the tax increase fails. "I live in Columbus, I'm a voter. And I want to be informed. And so this is coming from the division of police. This is what could happen."
Among the officers who would be cut, are the two dozen hired thanks to Federal Stimulus money.
If the tax increase passes, says Distelzweig, the 297 officers would keep their jobs.