The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Local News

October 10, 2012

Police union to protest publicly over possible layoffs

City proposes cuts, but ‘we can’t afford to lose 7 people,’ leader says

ANDERSON, Ind. — The Fraternal Order of Police will hold an “informational picket” outside Anderson City Hall early Thursday evening to oppose the planned layoff of seven police officers in January.

“We can’t afford to lose seven people,” said FOP President Scott Calhoun on Wednesday.

Eliminating those positions will harm public safety and make patrolling the city’s streets more dangerous for officers themselves, he said

The event is planned for 5 p.m.

At 7 p.m., the Anderson City Council is scheduled to begin deliberating a $63.2 million budget for fiscal 2013 proposed by Mayor Kevin Smith.

In addition to the Police Department cuts, 20 layoffs are proposed in the Anderson Fire Department, but those can’t be made unless parts of a contract with Local 1262 of the International Association of Firefighters are invalidated. That case is currently pending in Madison Circuit Court 6.

If the Smith administration prevails, the police department will have 107 officers — three are currently serving in the military — and the fire department will have 104 firefighters.

City Controller Sam Pellegrino said officials worked on the budget for most of the summer trying to find ways to avoid drastic cuts in public safety.

But given the ongoing loss of property tax revenue, and cuts already made in other city departments, there were simply no alternatives left.

“The last thing I want to do is lay off employees,” Pellegrino said. “I do not wish this on anyone. We really tried to make this as minimal as possible.”

Indeed, until officials learned recently that the city would receive an unexpected infusion of $1.2 million in county option income tax revenue, the projected cuts were deeper. Officials were contemplating a police department with 95 officers, and a fire department with 95 firefighters.

Pellegrino said the additional money was split equally between the two departments.

Calhoun said one of his concerns is that no city officials ever approached the union asking for ideas about how cuts could be made.

“Through cooperation, all kinds of things can be accomplished,” Calhoun said, but “this administration has not approached us at all.”

With serious crime in Anderson increasing, he said, “one loss of one police officer is going to be detrimental to this city.”

Find Stu Hirsch on Facebook and @StuHirsch on Twitter, or call 640-4861.

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