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Calif. Cops Brace for Bankruptcy Cutbacks

July 12, 2012  | 

Photo: San Bernardino P.D.
Photo: San Bernardino P.D.

Officers serving with the San Bernardino (Calif.) Police Department are bracing for severe cutbacks following the City Council's decision to file for bankruptcy.

City leaders now have 30 days to craft a "bankruptcy budget," after the City Council's Tuesday decision to file for Chapter 9 protection. In Stockton, which became the largest city to file bankruptcy in the nation in late June, city leaders proposed cutting police wages and eliminating retiree health-care benefits to help balance the ledger.

Similar cuts may be considered in San Bernardino, the head of the city's police union told POLICE Magazine.

"There's nothing that's not on the table," said Steve Turner, president of the San Bernardino Police Officers Association and a homicide detective.

On Thursday, San Bernardino Police Chief Robert Handy acknowledged the department may have to "modify our staffing models and make changes to our organizational structure," which may lead to drastic changes in the way the agency operates.

Chief Handy will shift officers from specialized assignments, including gang units, to patrol duty to ensure quick response to reported crimes, reports the Los Angeles Times. He has also suggested eliminating crime prevention programs.

Mayor Pat Morris told KTLA the city will consider outsourcing police services to the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department. The department's 294 sworn officers police a city with 211,000 residents.

San Bernardino, from a cash-flow standpoint, is in worse shape than Stockton, city leaders said. The city faces a $45 million deficit, compared to Stockton's $26-million shortfall, and has less revenue, according to city officials. Stockton's 325 sworn officers patrol a city of 291,000 residents.

San Bernardino is the fourth California city, along with Stockton, Vallejo, and Mammoth Lakes, that has filed for bankruptcy. And it may not be the last, Michael Coleman, a fiscal policy adviser for the California League of Cities, told The Times.

Coleman and others pointed to rising pension costs as playing a role in the bankruptcy filings. In San Bernardino, the city's retirement spending has jumped from $1 million in fiscal year 2006-2007—9% of the general fund—to $1.9 million, or 13% of the fund, in 2011-12. Public safety makes up 78% of city spending this year, reports the San Bernardino Sun.

However, mismanagement of funds by city leaders also caused the crisis, Turner said. Turner cited the city's lavish spending on projects such as a rapid-transit bus line and the Regal Theater.

"In a nutshell, we're in this condition because of mismanagement by the city," Turner said. "When all else fails, attack public employees."

Since 2009, the city's employee unions have given $10 million in concessions. The police union agreed to a wage freeze and reduced retiree medical benefits—an officer with 20 years of service would get $200 a month. The union also gave up a uniform allowance of $950 per officer.

By Paul Clinton


Stockton Cops May Face Wage, Benefit Cuts Due To Bankruptcy

Comments (12)

Displaying 1 - 12 of 12

ACL @ 7/12/2012 6:45 PM

See what happens when you have FULL-TIME police. They expect and expect and expect (salary increases and benefits and perks and pensions) and soon or later, the golden goose who lays that golden egg DIES. It's the way-of-the-future. This has GOT to stop.

JJ @ 7/12/2012 7:11 PM

ACL evidently you think part time police with no formal training could take care of the crime in your city. Well, you might just find out when you need a cop and one is not available. Glad I don't live in SB.

joker @ 7/12/2012 7:21 PM

ACL you are an idiot.

Tom Ret @ 7/12/2012 8:12 PM

To improve the public sector jobs situation such as fire and police, private sector jobs need to be thriving. Obama's green and give away agenda will not help the private sector and it appears that he will double down in his next term if elected. He sees no problem with his decisions so far and states he needs more time for his ideas to work.

David Cook @ 7/12/2012 9:17 PM

To ACL: Man you really are crazy. What an ill-thought out statement was that. Part Time Police. We have them, there called reserves. If they went to part time Police, nobody would ever want to be a Police Officer. They don't make enough money as it is to raise a family on. Police Officers in California depend on tons of overtime just so they can make their mortgage payments and feed their families. That is if they can qualify for a loan. My salary was so small, my kids could qualify for free lunches at school. With all the law suits that these cities would have to pay out because of untrained and incompetent officers, every city in California would go Bankrupt. What you wrote made me sick to my stomach. Try being a cop for one week if you feel that way, if were to last that long and you would change your tune. What a moron. You should apologize to all the men and woman who would and do give their lives every day to keep your ass safe.

[email protected] @ 7/12/2012 9:30 PM

ACL, Did you forget to put the "U" after your name? You've got to be a lawyer or a politician because it's painfully clear you don't lay your butt on the line every day. These city goverments are spending like there's no tomorrow but there is. It's here now. And the first ones to get the blame? LEOs & Fire. And you wonder why the good guys are leaving cali by the droves.

Dave in Chicago @ 7/12/2012 10:37 PM

Bankruptcy is what happens when your state does everything in its power to drive responsible taxpayers (persons and businesses) out of the state and caters to the welfare class with more and more and more free stuff. How are part-time PO's scheduled? What happens if you don't show up? Or decline to work holidays? What happens to them if they get injured ILOD?

mark @ 7/13/2012 1:40 AM

I think it's too late for California. I think Montana will be the last strong hold for the old Americans. It kind of sucks being part of a one world socialist govt.

TB @ 7/13/2012 11:45 AM

ACL, I lived in SB, and have had to use the SB Police many times. I was a Apartment Manager in one of the lower income areas, off of Highland and E, and I was always greatful to know that when I called they were always there...We need them full-time in those area's, because what is going to happen, is the work they have already done to clean up some of the crime, is going to come back in double force. Some people do not have much choice but to leave in those area's, and they have families.

The police do not do these jobs for the money, they do it because they care about the Community. I know that it even hard for police officers to survive on the income they get as the protectors of our what you said is just some stupid thought out of your peanut are just sorry.

Capt David-retired LA Cou @ 7/13/2012 12:19 PM

Every LEO needs to inquire with their municipiality the health of their retirement and benefits. If your city/county and maybe state is paying out more than 50% of their budget for retirements and benefits, they are in trouble..

DEADMAN @ 7/13/2012 11:26 PM

Time to start looking for part-time work yourself,maybe with the Sheriffs office incase of reduced pay or layoffs and look into adjusting your standard of living and investing in Californias Deferred Compensation Program to put more away,it'll take about 4 paychecks to adjust your standard of living.They won't be able to touch your deferred comp and you could be salting money away and what ever you do,stop voting for those liberals out there,campaign for the conservatives,you should have seen this coming,i did.Look for work outside the JOB.Remember in November,vote the Smuck out.

TNT @ 7/14/2012 2:14 PM

I agree with Deadman. Vote that moron out of office. He is trying to turn this country into a welfare dependent and socialist society. California typically sees problems first before they spread to the rest of the country. I feel for you guys out there and stay strong.

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