"http://www.abc15.com/content/news/phoenixmetro/central/story/Phoenix-police-may-face-massive-layoffs-amid/WKOJX5cCw0uaDMMMzBf0WA.cspx Phoenix police may face massive layoffs amid budget crisis PHOENIX -- As Phoenix struggles to overcome its budget crisis, city police may have to begin laying off sworn officers. "It's looking very likely," Sgt. Trent Crump said. Phoenix has asked all city departments to reduce their budgets by at least 15 percent. For police, that means a staggering amount of money, and officials said they have nowhere else to slice. "It's very difficult," Crump said. "What we know is that number is between $68 million and $70 million." Crump tracks the budget situation. He told ABC15 the cuts could mean: - Hundreds of officers and police staff could lose their jobs. - Two new precincts reorganized. - Eliminating several police units and teams. "When you take away this many people it's going to have to give some place," Crump said. "And we know that." But what officers don't know is who's on the chopping block. And at the Phoenix police union, the phone's been ringing off the hook from worried cops. "You've heard the phrase the thin blue line. It can't get any thinner, it's going to snap," said Mark Spencer, Phoenix Law Enforcement Association resident. The union represents 2,500 officers. And Spencer said he's not sure what else can be done or removed before budget cuts entirely sever the city's public safety. "You've seen that slogan on the side of police cars 'To Serve and Protect,' well these budget cuts are going to morph that from 'Serve and Protect' to 'Wait and See,'" said Spencer. Officials said the city manager will determine how much the police department will need to cut later this week. PLUS!! http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarep...01/26/20100126phoenix-police-layoffs0126.html January 27, 2010 | Phoenix officers continue work amid threat of layoffs by Michael Ferraresi - Jan. 26, 2010 12:00 AM The Arizona Republic Barry Cassidy knows his time as a sworn Phoenix police officer is ending. He was the last officer hired. With less than six months on the job, he patrols Bell Road in northeast Phoenix with the understanding his position would be the first cut. The 62-year-old expects his name will top the list when supervisors issue early pink-slip notifications to officers this week as Phoenix prepares to lay off first responders to help balance its $245 million deficit. "The advantage I have is people think I've been around forever," said Cassidy, a retired physician's assistant who earned his badge in August after serving for a year as a volunteer Phoenix police reserve officer. "They don't know they're looking at the biggest rookie on the department." The notices expected this week are the first step in preparing officers for layoffs or reassignment. It is unclear how many will be let go. The Police Department was asked to identify 15 percent of $456.7 million allocated through the city's general fund, or $68.5 million. Cassidy's hands rolled across the laptop in a Phoenix police patrol vehicle with the same precision they once assisted with open-heart surgeries at Mayo Clinic. He served an order of protection and filed a theft report during a recent shift without complaining about the prospect of losing his job. 'A real pinch' He empathizes with the police commanders who have agonized for months in anticipation of slashing individual positions, which Phoenix police unions and neighborhood groups are expected to fight next month. "This isn't negotiating a 2 percent raise or something," Cassidy said. "The city's in a real pinch." Losing his health insurance would be a problem, he said. But he knows it will be more difficult for younger officers who just started their careers, bought their first homes and celebrated the births of their first children. Cassidy, a grandfather who once served as executive director of the Arizona Medical Board, at 61 was the last officer to come on board before the department's hiring freeze. He idolized his father, a longtime deputy sheriff in Illinois, and served the same small agency for one year before a full scholarship to Duke University led him to a medical career. For years, Cassidy suffered from recurring anxiety dreams that he was on patrol - racing to a call in full uniform - only to glance down and notice he had no badge. If he loses his salary and benefits, Cassidy said he would return to the reserve unit as a volunteer. Phoenix is already operating with nearly 383 va- cant sworn-officer positions. After retirements and other attrition, the largest municipal police department in Arizona expects to have more than 425 vacancies by mid-year. Scope of cuts Police officials said they won't know the precise scope of the proposed cuts until later this week. The proposal then goes before City Council and to public hearings. Phoenix does not plan to fill the positions of four police commanders scheduled to retire by May. Another commander and assistant chief are up for the Mesa police-chief job, and either position might not be filled if either candidate is selected. Last year, Phoenix police cut around 7 percent - or about $30 million - which primarily targeted vacant sworn positions and some civilian-support positions. But this year leaves them much less to cut. The department's crime lab, records unit and other divisions are operating with fewer employees dedicated to their critical back-office roles. The Computer Services Bureau is providing technical support to the department with 40 percent fewer staff members, officials say. Construction is complete on a new precinct station in Laveen, and another precinct station near Cave Creek Road and Carefree Highway is expected to be completed by this summer, when the department plans to switch from six to eight precincts. Police commanders delayed the process for officers to bid on new precinct positions to understand the scope of the budget cuts before any official opening, which would reconfigure the city's entire patrol grid. "If things get worse, or the cuts affect us differently than we anticipate or anything else, all bets are off," said Phoenix police Cmdr. Rob Handy. Ideas to save jobs Phoenix police labor unions have already begun brainstorming ideas on compressed work schedules, furloughs and other options that could save some jobs. "There are so many ideas coming at you, it's tough to research everything," said James Sink, vice president for the 700-member Phoenix lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police. The discussions come at a time when the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, which represents about 2,500 rank-and-file police, negotiates an updated contract to carry the department for the next two years. The primary concern, aside from saving jobs, is to ensure the city is able to staff patrols to protect residents. Rosie Gullion, a north Phoenix community activist, said her Echo Mountain Neighborhood Coalition planned to petition the city to spare police and public safety as much as possible in a time when many residents fear the down economy will lead to a spike in neighborhood crime. "The police come first," Gullion said. "If the cuts have to be taken from other departments, so be it."