We are all affected when police departments and law enforcement agencies face budget cuts at the local and state level. The most basic function of government is to ensure the safety of its citizens. Unfortunately, there are too many instances of police departments not receiving the funding they require to provide for the public safety. Here are just three examples of the real-world effects of police budget cuts.
Kentucky sheriff suspends all LE activity for lack of funding
Last month, due to a severe lack of public funding, one Kentucky sheriff was forced to suspend all law enforcement activity within his department. “I have no choice,” said Martin County Sheriff John Kirk. “I can’t expect people to work if I can’t pay them.” The county is facing mounting budget issues and the small sheriff’s department is suffering the consequences. Kirk says that if he does not receive a $75,000 pledge promised to his department by the county, he will be forced to lay off the remaining deputies on staff.
11 officer jobs cut in Louisiana town
In Ville Platte, Louisiana, 11 police officer jobs were cut after budget restructuring. “It bothers me, but we have to make the cutbacks to stay in line with the budget,” said Ville Platte Police Chief Neal Lartigue. Some of the positions were already vacant, so the city is only laying off seven active police officers. They have also been forced to lay off four recruits who were waiting to join the police academy. According to one resident, the city should have tried to save money elsewhere. “ I think they’re putting everything on the police department, which the police we need more than anything.”
Fifty police officers to be laid off in Massachusetts
In Methleun, Massachusetts, fifty police officers are about to be laid off amid a contract dispute between the city and the ranking officers in the department over pay. Now, Chief Joseph Solomon of the Methluen Police Department is worried that his department will not have enough officers to patrol the city and may have to rely on neighboring departments to help fill the void. “It’s absolutely a public safety emergency,” said Solomon, “because you can’t run a police department of a city our size with half our force.”
When police departments are forced to endure budget cuts and lay off police officers, their communities suffer. While smart and efficient budget cuts are not necessarily a bad thing when it comes to law enforcement, local and state governments must exert extreme caution and diligence when cutting funds to police departments, because there is no greater duty of government than to provide for public safety.