San Diego's police chief sounded off Wednesday about what more cuts to public safety will look like.
Chief William Lansdowne also responded to claims by opponents of Prop. D, the half-cent sales tax hike to raise money for the city.
Mayor Jerry Sanders wants $16 million in cost reductions from the police department, about 7 percent of the current budget for police. On Wednesday, Lansdowne said he had crunched the numbers and was recommending closing two of the nine divisional stations and sending 169 sworn officers (out of a force of 1,900) -- plus 50 civilians -- "out the door."
"When I say 'out the door,' I mean: 'Walk out the door,' " the chief said. "I take their badges and guns, and they're no longer employed. And I don't have enough people to manage what we do. It also means this: I would have to cut communications yet again."
Public safety cuts are the last resort to bail out a budget swamped with red ink, unless some fresh funding materializes.
"First, we know how big this problem is, and now we have a way of fixing the problem," said business executive Vince Mudd, who chaired a citizens' task force that recommended budget principles and cost-cutting approaches.
That plan was adopted by the city on Monday.
Reductions in the uniformed ranks of public safety, which accounts for half of the city's general fund budget, would seem to be a tough task for a mayor who once served as chief of police.
"But I don't think he's bluffing," Mudd said. "I mean, you can call it a scare tactic, but there's a way it should be, and there's a way it is. The way it is is: You have a big structural deficit that you've got to get rid of, because from a cash-flow standpoint, you don't have the money. And that's a fact."
However the cuts fall -- and there are doubts about the depth of cuts to public safety -- business leaders opposed to Prop. D say that those realities go with the territory in the private sector. In the case of car dealers, a half-cent sales tax hike could mean hundreds more dollars added on to sticker prices.
"I can't ask my customers for more money for a car to help me through these difficult times," said Dave Miller, who is the general manager of Hine Mazda. "I've got to do what I can to cut my expenses now and restructure my business. We went through this in '09 and a good part of ."
Lansdowne said he had some advice for people who want to kick around political footballs. In essence, he said to stay out of his business, and that he's the expert. He also said he doesn't like what will be left of his resources without a fresh revenue stream.