Police officers converged at the state Capitol last Thursday to urge lawmakers not to cut any more money from law enforcement funding. Many of those who went to Richmond, according to the DC Examiner were area Chiefs of Police like Chief Charlie Deane of Prince William Country, Chief Tom Longo of Charlottesville, Chief Doug Davis of Waynesboro, and Chief Rick Clark of Galax.
All these chiefs echoed the same theme: No more state law enforcement cuts. Governor Kaine has proposed cutting the Aid to Localities with Police Departments program by 7% to help reduce a $3 billion shortfall in the state budget.
These officers warn that further cuts could severely interfere with public safety. The state aid to local police departments puts about 2,800 officers on the street. With fewer and fewer resources, anticipated layoffs, unfilled positions, less overtime, outdated equipment, many localities are beginning to feel the pinch. The chiefs are concerned. Many fear an increase in crime as police officers are simply spread too thin.
“In most of our communities, we need to be increasing the number of law enforcement personnel,” said Police Chief Charlie T. Deane of Prince William County.
Deane and other police chiefs said the proposed cuts likely would result in potential layoffs, pay cuts and less overtime and training.
Should law enforcement be prioritized and have a veil of fiscal protection thrown over it? Isn’t protecting citizens one of the first jobs of government? Or, should all agencies tighten their belts equally in bad times.
Will the federal stimulus package contain money for local police and sheriff departments? Does anyone know how many officers we have lost here locally? Have positions been protected because of promises made by the BOCS? Weren’t we told that we would have all the officers we needed as the resolution was passed? I believe that promise was broken sometime last year.
Prince William County has increasingly more urban type crimes being committed on what seems like a weekly basis. We can not afford to cut back on law enforcement. The more serious crimes, such as the ones we have been having lately require many officers for longer periods of time. When many officers are pulled to work a case, some place else is being shorted. Overtime on the more difficult cases also adds up very quickly.
Governor Kaine needs to know that we cannot spread our police force any thinner. State law enforcement funds are desperately needed.