Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

A closer look at St. Petersburg police budget cuts

ST. PETERSBURG — The police chief blames rising crime on the plummeting economy.

But the blame doesn't end there: The shaky economy is also why the police department will have to battle more crime with fewer resources.

The agency had to cut 2 percent, or $1.8 million, from its $86 million budget this year. Next year's proposed reduction is even deeper: The department is preparing to cut 5 percent, or $3.9 million.

And in case the city's financial projections grow even more dire, preparations are being made for more drastic cuts of 7 and 10 percent.

"I think the budget reductions are going to make it more difficult for us to do our jobs," said police Chief Chuck Harmon.

Police statistics show a 7 percent rise in overall reported crime in the city in the first four months of the year compared to the same period in 2008.

To meet this year's budget reduction, the department cut almost $400,000 in fuel costs, nearly $600,000 in salaried positions and more than $800,000 in overtime.

The staff reductions came from the elimination of 15 full-time and five part-time administrative and support positions, many of which were vacant. But five employees, including three police cadets, were let go.

Next fiscal year's proposed cuts include $1.2 million in overtime and nearly $400,000 in operating expenses.

Under that scenario, the department will only bring in 10 cadets, cutting 20 positions. An undetermined number of support jobs could also be lost.

Still, the news isn't all bad. Despite the cuts, the chief expects to field the most officers in city history.

The force's authorized strength is 540 sworn officers. But federal grant and stimulus money will allow the department to hire as many as 545 officers — or more, if the mayor allows the money to be spent.

There are currently 531 officers on the job and 19 cadets waiting to take their state tests and join the force.

Getting to 545 shouldn't be hard thanks to a welcome byproduct of the economy: Fewer veterans are leaving for bigger agencies. But for those who do leave, plenty of cadets are waiting to fill their spots.

"If the consequence of the economy is we're at full strength," Harmon said, "that's a good thing."

Jamal Thalji can be reached at thalji@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8472.

Fiscal 2009

budget cuts

Fuel: $387,000

Personnel: $572,402

Overtime: $830,132

Total cuts: $1,789,534

Source: St. Petersburg Police Department

A closer look at St. Petersburg police budget cuts 06/06/09 [Last modified: Saturday, June 6, 2009 4:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Yankees executive Jessica Steinbrenner seeks restraining order against ex-husband

    Civil

    TAMPA — Jessica Steinbrenner, a top executive with the New York Yankees and a daughter of the team's late owner George Steinbrenner, is seeking a restraining order against her ex-husband.

    New York Yankees excutive Jessica Steinbrenner, with her then-husband Felix Lopez Jr. in this 2008 photo, filed for a restraining order against Lopez in Hillsborough County last week. 
[Times files]
  2. Hurricane evacuations halted for lack of ambulances at VA's Young center

    Veterans

    As many as 30 patients who should have been evacuated from the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center were left behind during Hurricane Irma because the hospital and the county couldn't agree on where they should go.

    Lorraine Johnson-Mitchell, back home in St. Petersburg on Monday, said she watched in disbelief as hospital staff seemed to scramble without a plan to evacuate patients like her from the VA medical center in St. Petersburg before Hurricane Irma. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  3. South Florida poaches debris pickup trucks once slotted for Tampa, officials say

    Hurricanes

    TAMPA — A week into the job of picking up an estimated 300,000 cubic yards of Hurricane Irma debris from its streets, Tampa City Hall is finding to its dismay that the challenge is more competitive than expected.

    Yard debris from the winds of Hurricane Irma line many yards along Pinellas Point Drive South, St. Petersburg, 9/22/17.
  4. Wisniewska: I protected our students and USFSP campus

    Columns

    Throughout my tenure in academia, my focus has always been on putting students first.

    The USF St. Petersburg Campus, Thursday, June 19, 2014.
  5. Bucs defensive end Chris Baker (90) is seen during training camp last month at One Buc Place. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]