Freeze! Economy Stalls, Shrinks Police Budgets

Local department not backfilling positions

The effects of the struggling economy are beginning to be felt along the thin blue line, a report shows.

According to a survey by the Police Executive Research Forum, departments all across the nation are feeling the economic pinch.  The group polled 200 police departments for the survey. Of the departments that responded, 39 percent reported suffering budget cutbacks because of the poor economy, and  43 percent reported that the economic downturn had affected their abilities to deliver services. 

"The last 18 months, we decreased the number of officers by 10 as a result of people retiring, and then we didn't backfill those positions," Chula Vista Police Chief Rick Emerson said. 

Emerson said Chula Vista's economic problems have prompted budget moves at his department, including a hiring freeze. 

"Do you lay people off? Cut special projects?" Ermerson said. "That's what we're looking at."

There are still the same number of patrol officers on the streets of Chula Vista as there were before the economic crisis, according to Emerson, but there are fewer employees who work behind the scenes.

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