Today, the Prince William County Board of Supervisors unanimously cut 8 more officers from the police department budget. That makes a total of 8 officers and 12 support staff in the past 2 years. In addition, a million dollars has been removed from their supplies budget. This would have covered training, radar, and other equipment. Another half million dollar cut is looming on the horizon. The cut became effective today.
There have been no new police officers added in the past 3 years. Supervisor Nohe asked if they were really cutting police officers. The answer is yes. Even though there were 8 vacancies, there are still 8 fewer uniformed officers out defending public safety today than there were yesterday because these positions were abolished and cannot be filled.
Perhaps one of the most devastating areas to be cut is in the schools. Starting 2011, there will be no police officers in middle schools. The school police officer program has been a highly successful one which cut down on neighborhood crime, bullying, gang membership and other annoyances that seem to plague kids of middle school age. These officers knew the kids, the teachers, the administrators, the bus drivers, and many of the parents and had a good working relationship with all of the above. They were able to ward of f potential problems. After this year, the schools will just have to call and get whoever responds.
There are still 6 officers who are authorized to process 287(g) related matters. These officers in the Criminal Alien Unit only work on issues dealing with illegal immigration and continue to be funded.
Prince William residents are going to have to decide how important public safety is to them. Most folks don’t give it much thought until something happens and they need a police officer, on the double. The wait time might be getting a lot longer as retiring officers are no longer replaced. This might be the time to start asking how much more of a loss can we take.
Reading the paper, it seems that PWC is plagued by more crime that is associated with inner city crime. Any time something large happens, many officers are tied up on the scene and cannot respond to other calls. When officers work a large crime scene, that means they aren’t out in your neighborhood or mine. Are we willing, as a county, to let this happen? Or should we start howling and demand that PWC begin to budget for these losses from the state. A few pennies added to our tax rate might make a great deal of difference in public safety in Prince William County.