Police, firefighters among possible layoffs

Sunday Times Newspapers

WYANDOTTE – Three police officers and two firefighters could be cut under the 2011-12 budget.

The cuts were announced last week in the first in a set of budget hearings to discuss ways to tackle a projected $1.4 million budget shortfall.

Other cuts would include two ordinance officers and one animal control officer, coordinators for the Recreation Department and Youth Assistance Program, a guide at the Wyandotte Museums, clerical positions at the Department of Public Services and all seasonal DPS workers.

The proposed budget would also include a 6 percent wage cut for all city employees.

At a budget session covering the Police and Fire departments Monday, Police Chief Daniel Grant suggested making cuts to the detective bureau or traffic division instead of to patrol officers.

Other cuts could include eliminating responses to calls from people who have locked themselves out of their vehicles, Grant said. The department receives up to 10 of those calls per week. Councilors also brought up charging businesses or residents for which the department responds frequently for the same issue.

“We certainly don’t want to start charging victims of crime,” Grant said. “If you’re there for a loud party, a lot of those, we get the call from the neighbor and we get there and it’s quiet. So who do we charge?”

Residents also spoke out in support of keeping the police and fire jobs and offered their own suggestions to keep those positions.

Resident Richard Patrick suggested consolidating the chief positions of both departments with those of other cities.

“Consider cutting supervision at the top rather than cutting at the bottom,” he said. “They’re the ones who provide the services when we need protection or we need the responses of EMS or fire engines.”

Mayor Joseph Peterson responded, saying consolidation with those departments is possible, but unlike in many cities, Wyandotte fire and police chiefs work in the field.

“Our fire chief is dressed and right up the ladder with the rest of them,” Peterson said. “If you looked at the (Street) Art Fair alone, our (police) chief was out there until 11 p.m. every day. These are not just supervisors, these are working supervisors. They don’t sit behind a desk and not do anything.”

Patrick also suggested selling some city-owned buildings, including historical properties, and instituting a service fee for non-profits that use city services.

“It’s time for sacred cows to end,” he said.

Budget hearings are to take place for every department. The next fiscal year begins Oct. 1.