SALINAS, Calif. (KION) Cutting hundreds of thousands in police funding for the next fiscal year. The Salinas City Council passed their new budget into law in a tight vote Tuesday night, including cutting about $1.4 million from the police department's share.
The cuts impact positions that have not been filled yet within the department. This includes four sworn officer positions and one non-sworn civilian position. It also includes a reduction in supplies and services.
Four councilmembers voted in favor of the new budget and three voted against it.
The Salinas Police Officers Association has been outspoken about what these cuts will mean for the department. There are now 14 total sworn officer positions frozen in Salinas, something the SPOA says will be detrimental to the community.
"The services that the police department provides could potentially be an issue and the services could be diminished going forward," said Ruben Sanchez, the president of the SPOA.
While no current police officers and staff were laid off because of this new budget, the police association is concerned this latest move could be the first steps in eliminating existing jobs.
There are 75 total patrol officers right now, but only 72 can be spread out over the four shifts per day, with many working several more hours of overtime. The SPOA says it is unsustainable, especially when you take into account vacations, days off and sick days.
"You start doing that more often, the fatigue factor, the injury factor, the sick factor takes place. And now, they're way below minimums. And it's kind of hard to attract officers or people wanting to apply," said Sanchez.
But Salinas Councilmember Anthony Rocha, who voted in favor of this new budget, believes the city should fund other projects that have been waiting in the docks: including the Alisal Vibrancy Plan and the Boronda Road project.
"In order to augment those investments into our recreation centers, into our infrastructure projects that for too long have been ignored, but yet campaigned upon for ballot measures," said Rocha.
Out of a total of $188 million budget, police will now get about $53 million of the city's total operating budget, or about 43.5 percent; it's down from 45 percent before.
And more will be spent on specific task forces like the Violence Suppression Unit, that will grow to nine officers now from just three.
"So we're making critical investments in areas that we know addresses some key components of crime, but also recognizing that crime is a very broad issue that needs to be addressed in various way," said Rocha. "Prevention and intervention being one of the key areas we need to look at, which is why we're investing in the recreation centers and the parks."
Rocha says crime is at an all time low right now and the city is in a unique position to make longer-term investments.
There are about six to seven officers going to retire soon, according to the police officers association.
PREVIOUS ARTICLE: The Salinas City Council approved their new budget for the next fiscal year on Tuesday in a 4-3 vote.
The budget includes cuts to police department funding, impacting four sworn officer positions and one non-sworn civilian position. These positions have been frozen from the hiring process, meaning the city will not hire people to fill those positions for the time being.
The city will save about $1.4 million from these cuts, which also includes a reduction in supplies and services.
KION's Josh Kristianto will have more details on what this means for the police and will have reaction from the local police officers association tonight at 5 and 6 p.m.