Spokane police may pare ranks
Chief says 24 positions would be lost, mostly through attrition, if officers don’t agree to wage reductions
Spokane police would cut 24 positions, most of them by attrition, to cover the department’s share of a projected city shortfall if officers don’t agree to wage concessions, Chief Anne Kirkpatrick told the City Council on Thursday.
Half of the reductions would come from patrol officers, and four would be detectives, she said. The cuts, plus a series of staff realignments, would allow the department to concentrate on what Kirkpatrick called the foundation of its mission, responding to 911 calls.
Like other city departments, police have been told to find a 4.07 percent cut in their 2009 budget because of anticipated reductions in tax revenues. For police, that’s nearly $2 million the city will have to find in budget deliberations that begin in November and must conclude in December.
Under the proposal, the department would be the same size it was earlier this decade, during another economic downturn, but would make the cuts differently, Kirkpatrick said. It would cut the Targeted Crimes Unit and drop one of its two drug-detection canine units. Total authorized personnel would drop to 385 full-time employees from 409.
City officials are negotiating with the Police Guild for wage reductions that could make many of the proposed cuts unnecessary. City Council members used Kirkpatrick’s presentation to publicly urge the guild to accept concessions.
“It is grim. It is sorely disappointing,” Councilman Richard Rush said of Kirkpatrick’s plan.
Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin said she hoped the guild would show “compassion when they think about the citizens they serve.”
Kirkpatrick, who acknowledged earlier this week she applied for the police chief’s job in San Francisco and is regularly recruited for top openings in other police departments, tried to assure the council her departure is not imminent.
“Don’t order a sheet cake for my departure yet,” she said.