ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–A plan to cut 50 officers from the city police force raises questions of public safety and the threat of a lawsuit.
The police board approved a budget today that includes the cuts, but then on review decided the vote will have to be retaken, because board member Tom Irwin had left on private business before the vote was taken.
Police Officers Association Business Manager Jeff Roorda is questioning whether the cuts will cause crime to go up and endanger officers forced to patrol alone without partners.
“We’re dead set opposed to it, and we’re going to fight it tooth and nail,” Roorda said. He suggested the union may sue the police pension system for provoking the cuts by requesting $8 million from the department budget this year, an amount Roorda calls “too large.”
Police Board member Mayor Slay voted for the cuts, and then said afterward he would like to restore funding for the officers, if the city can achieve “meaningful” pension costs savings from its police and firefighters.
“We need more officers, not fewer,” Slay said.
Police Chief Dan Isom was asked if he can safely police the city with some 1,300 officers left after the cuts would take effect.
“We will make some adjustments in how we deploy people and cover those areas that are most problematic,” Isom said.
No date has been set for when the board will vote again on the budget containing the cuts.
At the center of the parliamentary wrinkle was Mayor Slay’s amendment delaying for one year the pay increases for sergeants and above. (Irwin had left before the final budget containing that amendment could be voted on.)
Chief Isom fought against Slay’s plan, saying the pay matrix raises for sergeants and above would cost $150,000 — far below the a $694,000 budget shortfall the board was working to erase.
Board members Slay, Irwin and Richard Grey voted in support of Slay’s amendment . Bettye Battle-Turner voted no.