Police chief: Laying off 200 officers would be 'devastating'

Thursday, May 24, 2012 at 12:59am

Losing 200 police personnel would be “very devastating,” Metro police Chief Steve Anderson said Wednesday, but it would also be the only option if the department’s budget is not increased next year.

“We’re a very tight police department,” Anderson said. “We’d just have to shut down a lot of our areas –– our drug enforcement, our gang enforcement.”

In painting the dire picture, Anderson reiterated one of the chief points Mayor Karl Dean has made in his pitch to sell a 53-cent property tax increase to the public and Metro Council. Not raising revenue, the mayor has stressed, would result in the reduction of 200 police officers at a time when homicides are at a 45-year low in Nashville.

During the ongoing rounds of budget hearings Wednesday, Anderson told council members how his department plans to use Dean’s proposed $6.7 million increase to the police department’s budget, which would lift its overall level for the 2012-13 fiscal year to approximately $168 million.

More than half of the increase would be used to staff Metro’s new Madison police precinct, Anderson said. Funds would also go toward the addition of 17 scientists for the department’s first ever DNA crime lab, set to open in 2013.

“The potential exists for us to work more than 1,000 DNA cases a year,” Anderson said. “About 300 of these would be related to sexual assault, homicide or other personal violent crimes.”

Dean’s proposed property tax increase along with the $1.71 billion Metro operating budget goes before the council for a second of three votes in June.

Tipping Anderson Wednesday to discuss the alternative –– the outlook if funds weren’t added to the police department’s budget –– was At-large Councilwoman Megan Barry: “If you were to get no new money, what does that do to you?” she asked.

Anderson has arrived at the loss of 200 police officers because of an expiring three-year federal COPS grant, which Dean has proposed renewing. Approved by the Metro Council in 2009, the federal grant added 50 new police officers to Metro.

The grant, made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, came with a catch: Following the grant’s expiration this year, Metro is required to use its own funds to retain the 50 officers. If it fails to do so, the city would have to pay back the entire $7.5 million to the federal government. Thus, Metro would lose those 50 cops, plus the department would lay off an additional 150 police personnel to pay for the fine.

Anderson said other cities comparable to Nashville have reduced its police forces because of budget constraints. He cited San Jose, Calif., which has cut 130 officers, and Sacramento, which has cut more than 100. Both cities no longer carry out key law enforcement services, he said.

“That would be the reality to us,” he said.

Anderson described a Metro police department that he called “lean and efficient.” To drive home the point, he compared Nashville to Memphis, a city that is larger than Nashville by only 60,000 people. Despite the similar sizes, he said Nashville has 1,373 sworn officers compared to 2,513 in Memphis.

“If we had the same ratio as Memphis, we would have 914 more police officers,” he said. “Unfortunately, that would cost $63 million more dollars.

“I’m not here tonight to ask your for $63 million to hire 914 police officers,” Anderson said. “I am here to ask you to let us keep what we’ve got.”

40 Comments on this post:

By: Ask01 on 5/24/12 at 4:17

The fault lies with Mayor Dean and the Metro Council for accepting the money with the attached conditions, nowing full well the state of the economy and not knowing how soon or quickly recovery would be realized.

Greedy for Federal money, our elected employees, salivating wildly at the image of "free" money I imagine, did not think ahead. Now they want us to pay for their short sightedness.

I propose laying off some of the upper Metro Nashville government earning in excess of $100,000 dollars and presenting Mayor Dean and the Council with a bill so they can be personally responsible.

Perhaps MNPD will have to focus on real crimes, no more stings, no more gangs of officers lurking with radar guns at the bottom of hills waiting for unsuspecting motorists.

Seriously, if I were to find myself unemployed and, even with an uncertain financial or job outlook, reason I will have no problem finding another job, and commit to financial obligation with strings attached, and the entire situation falls apart, I would have to make cuts, painful perhaps, in other areas. Oh, wait........

Once more, the fault lies with our leadership for overextending themselves.

It's time to 'man up' and rise above the usual juvenile threats to curtail services affecting the common citizen such as educating children, public safety, basic municipal obligations.

Don't start cutting at the bottom. To do so makes as much sense as buying a new hood ornament or paint job for your car when the tires are almost worn down to the rims.

Our leadership(?) made this mess, they need to fix the issue with their own wallets, not by picking the public pocket.

Here is an idea: publish the entire proposed metro budget, including all salaries for every metro employee from Mayor Dean down, and let the public decide where they will take the cuts.

What's the matter, chicken?

By: brian21285 on 5/24/12 at 5:54

Would love to see some of the arrogant cops laid off. Every time I pass a cop in Hermitage it seems they are either on their phone or texting. I watched one of the motorcycle cops sitting outside my subdivision, for well over an hour, talking on his phone, not pulling one speeder over during that time. (which is a good thing for the speeders I guess)

Cops rarely do their intended job, instead they want to bully people around and write ridiculously high tickets for the very minor things. Let's lay them off and save the city some money. I'm definitely not into getting a property tax increase to keep them on the pay roll! Get rid of the over aged "hall monitors"

By: parnell3rd on 5/24/12 at 7:35

Great points ask.
Bottom line Mayor Dean got into bed with the devil, federal gov't, now we, Davidson county taxpayers have to pay the bill. Why? Because I almost guantee Mayor Dean used that money in other area's. Including giving tax breaks to Gaylord and Dolly Parton.
Gaylord has gotten rich off of all the tax breaks he has recieved since the 70's.
Just like Bud Adams.

By: Rasputin72 on 5/24/12 at 7:41

Anytime a company has to lay off people it is "devastating" The company then moves forward. If you turn this city over to any successful business person for 30 days you will see that the city will move on without a whimper after the immediate "devastation"

I would wager that of all the cuts I would make the easiest cut to make would be in the area of the police department. We may have a lot of policeman on the payroll now but it appears and I sure it is true that crime is not reduced by their numbers.

If I were to save these "200" policmen would be if given a choice of a layoff slip or walking a beat in a North Nashville neighborhood they chose the beat. You can be assured they would easily accept the layoff slip. Policemen as a group want to intimidate people who are probably not criminals. In North Nashville some "person" would stick the billyclub up the cops rectum. Policemen as a group do not like to face true criminals unless they have a 10 to 1 advantage.

By: Rocket99 on 5/24/12 at 7:46

I'm sorry but, if Metro knew up front that they either had to keep the 50 new positions or pay back the entire amount of the grant, they should have planned accordingly.

I do not see the need to cut 200 police as they have stated. Tighten the belts in other areas and consider other more economical ways of doing things. as large as Metro government is and with as many staff as they have, there are other things that can be done to keep from paying back the grant funds.

Maybe hire just 8 - 10 scientists as opposed to 17. Utilize support staff better so there aren't as many needed. The list could go on and on.

This is truely a scare tactic to get every property owner to agree to a property tax increase.

I'm guessing that if Ask01 worked for Metro that he/she would not be in any of the groups of the proposed layoffs. It's very easy to say to cut a certain group when you haven't really had to deal with things like this.

By: spooky24 on 5/24/12 at 8:15

brian I'm not sure what you beef is with MNPD however I agree you should hide behind you monitor and make comments about patrol officers in the cowardly way in which you do. Hermitage patrol officers would love to discuss your accusations of their lazy, arrogant attitude in person and since you have no understanding of even basic computer security they more than likely will discuss this with you soon.
I will personally contact all the members of the districts motorcycle unit along with Michele Donegan the commander of the Hermitage district about your belief that the districts officers are "over aged hall monitors"

sp

By: C.A.Jones on 5/24/12 at 8:47

Mr. Garrison,

Why don't we compare the crime statistics between Memphis and Nashville and see just how much those extra 1,140 officers are REALLY helping out.....

Typical scare tactics. OH NO!!! If we don't get an extra FOUR PERCENT OF OUR TOTAL BUDGET... Then I guess rapists and murderers will have to go unpunished while we still write traffic tickets like we're hadning out candy. Them's the breaks!!!

Dean and Anderson both can go take a long walk off a short pier.

By: govskeptic on 5/24/12 at 8:55

Would you expect anyother statement from the Chief . even if the number
was 5 to be laid off?

By: Lou2 on 5/24/12 at 8:58

I have a solution! It involves people like Brian. We create a list of complainers who don't need the services of police. Think of the money we could save. Brian can whine (for free!) while his house is robbed, his neighborhood vandalized, or whatever. But most importantly, he doesn't get a penny of my tax dollars. Meanwhile, I'm happy to support these underpaid public servants with like what share of my total tax outlays to Metro - 20 bucks a year?

By the way, this stuff about "overpaid" Metro officials is nonsense on the face of it, and just for bumper stickers. It has nothing to do with our budget ills, and if you don't think that get what you pay for, look at our State Reps. Nashville is amazing. Everybody wants something for free, and we tie ourselves in knots trying to pretend that 'our' handouts are different than 'their' handouts.

By: NewYorker1 on 5/24/12 at 9:03

I am a black belt in two different martial arts and I have a permit to carry my weapon, so I'd say lay off the 200 officers and stay out of my pocket.

By: royt5 on 5/24/12 at 9:11

The mayor knew that this was going to hit them down the road, but he ignored those facts and took the stimulist money anyway. Is this the typical Democrat Mayor of a city or what? Think Detroit, Chicago or any of the other Democratic led cities.

By: frodo on 5/24/12 at 9:17

No sympathy from me. You drink the federal KoolAid, and you die by it. We will hear these scare stories one after one as cover for the tax increase. The talking points are all planned and time for coordinated release.

By: wasaw on 5/24/12 at 9:31

Metro government uses the same excuse everytime they introduce a tax increase. Taxpayers are getting tired of the "old song and dance". Hizoner is the same old Democrat politician that Nashvillians. If he were a skilled businessman, he would have found a solution to what he tells us is an issue. But on the other hand, he encourages the council to pass out tax incentives to incoming companies, whereby the taxpayers end up subsidizing them.

As Rocket99 mentioned above, Dean knew the conditions of the federal money two years ago and rolled the dice. He knows "The Tennessessean" will print anything he says without any questions. I just don't understand the mindest of the administration concerning the police department. Being retired from the department, having worked there thirty-four years, I can promise you there is a LOT of waste going on there. There are TOO many officers assigned to NON-PATROL positions. ARe you aware there is a unit assigned to just cater to the wishes of the mayor? That's about ten wasted positions there, alone. The special operations units are glutted with unneeded personnel, also.

Spooky24, if you can't reach Michelle (and you probably can't), I've got her cell phone number handy. She'd be happy to hear about the officers on their cells all day. REMEMBER: Police are ONLY minutes away when seconds count. They're not going to be able to help you immediately if you're being robbed, raped, murdered, or assaulted. Police work is almost all "reactive". If an officer is writing a traffic ticket and receives a "HOT" call, he will complete that ticket. He gets more credit in this administration for the ticket, than responding to the emergency call. How things have changed over the years. Serpas ruined, what was a good police department. He's now in New Orleans, doing the same to them.

By: Magnum on 5/24/12 at 9:40

Biggest waste of money in my opinion = enforcement of the HOV lanes. Send those cops home and put the money towards something useful. Lately, it has been relentless on I40. One day, I sat for 40 minutes trying to figure out why traffic was so slow when no wrecks had been reported. Sure enough, there were two cops pulling folks over in the HOV lane about a mile apart. I wish they'd just add whatever revenue they pull off of those $50 tickets to the gas tax and quit screwing up traffic. I bet they pull in less revenue (probably share it with fed anyway) than it costs to run the police car, pay the cop, etc.

By: 420 Warrior on 5/24/12 at 9:48

As America is transitioned to a Police state by well meaning albeit wrong thinking champions of law and order. We the citizens will increasingly face cries for more money as taxes and tickets cannot keep up with the growth. Also how will Metro keep up with it's quota for the prison industrial complex? It is all a racket designed to create the impression of crime fighting and the idiots at the legislature make laws every year to make what you in the privacy of your home a crime. I am forming a Nashville branch of www.Copblock.org to help protect what remains of our rights.

By: rainman1943 on 5/24/12 at 10:00

This is just another political game as Dean is wanting to get his property tax increase approved by the public. Oh lets tell the public how we will deal with the budget by taking away what is most important , the safty of the community. Lets sell the citizen on fear so they will be happy to pay more taxes for their safty. game,games , games. Dean is a very poor businessman and irresponsible. First of all his Convention Center was a joke and slap in the face to Nashville tax payers. We needed a new convention center, like we need a hole in the head. But of course we know that was a decison to line his pockets and to take care of his friends who help to fund his election. Why would you build a Convention Center when the economy is in the tolet and companies who utilize centers have cut back on conventions to balance their budgets. Not to mention we aleady had two convention centers in Nashville. The salaries for metro employees in the higher positions is outrageous, including the mayors salary. As a one time business man, who understands supply and demand, you dont cut out employees who add income to the budget, you cut from the top positions first. Get rid of the egos and get humble and get smart. Goverment for the most part is all about paybacks and not common business since. They can throw away more money on stupid stuff rather than be smart, but again its all about the money and how they can line their pockets. And Dean has sure lined his pockets. Good ole politics. What a joke. Stupid , greedy people running our country, states and communities, while the people who really matter pay the price particurally at a time when the economy is in the tolet.

By: East37206 on 5/24/12 at 10:24

STOP the fear mongering Greg Hinote.

Do the math people!

take avg. cop salary + benefits (fringe costs) totaling $54,732 (a high estimate) x 200 = $10,946,520.

So why do we need a $100 mil tax increase?

If it is all for 200 cops "or else" why not just raise $11 mil more...

By: East37206 on 5/24/12 at 10:26

City Paper & Joey Garrison - you don't need to help Dean, which is what you are doing by posting titles such as

"Police chief: Laying off 200 officers would be 'DEVASTATING'"

Lots of other more fairly balanced words you could use.

By: slacker on 5/24/12 at 10:37

If one of the tv networks, creates a police drama, with policemen patrolling with rocket packs on their backs, the city will take more federal funds to hire some of those guys.
They can use them to swoop down, and arrest prostitutes and ''Johns''. Maybe write speeding tickets to helicopters.

They obviously knew the fed. funds would run out, and they obviously knew they would raise property taxes to compensate. Raise them AFTER the election year. But they obviously DON'T know people, are pissed off about property tax breaks for certain businesses, served up with a ''we know whats best for you attitude''.

Not to mention, building projects that could wait until the economy improves, things such as water parks, and bike trails, etc.
Then adding insult to injury, they trot out department heads with scripted tales of woe.

By: Jughead on 5/24/12 at 10:45

Here we go with the "we are all gonna die" unless we agree to a tax hike. Same liberal playbook, same socialist mayor.

I have a better idea--Metro needs to QUIT SPENDING! Cut, just like Bredeson did as governor. And, State workers said the same thing---we will collapse into anarchy---but somehow we managed to make it on less.

Why doesn't gov't have to do the same thing as Joe Sixpack?

By: Jughead on 5/24/12 at 10:46

Disgusting scare tactics from our "esteemed" millionaire mayor, Karl Marx Dean. Hey Karl: have your wife kick in a few million she has lying around.

By: hattrick3 on 5/24/12 at 11:45

Spooky - You are no better. You sound like that kid who the teacher put in charge to take names if anyone talked. Here you are saying you'll "run and tell" because someone states a fact that they watched happen.

By: ssssunny43 on 5/24/12 at 12:23

Forget about giving anymore tax dollars to the police---they don't do squat for what they're paid now. If the Chief wants some money, get out on the interstates every morning and afternoon and arrest/fine the lawbreakers and make the roads safe for law-abiding drivers. 90+MPH drivers are out on all these roads EVERY DAY. I see cops on 65 and 24 about once a week. You want more money, Chief-------explain just exactly what your plan has been for making our roads safe? Take all the time you need to explain your strategy/tactics----8 seconds should be enough time. . .go ahead and fire your boys. Try and hold the taxpayers hostage with stupid threats like that. What this city needs is a police chief committed to providing safety on Nashville highways. Send this guy to East TN

By: spooky24 on 5/24/12 at 12:50

No not at all. I just wanted to assist brian get the help he needs. If he is going to accuse professionals of malfeasance on their job in a public forum he needs to, in addition to hiding behind the curtains, learn to mask his ip address so not to provide those individuals with free and legal access to his address- and his arrest record which seems to be the root of the problem.
I'm sure the motorcycle patrol units commander can't wait to explain this to him in person-up close and personal-that is.

By: stevebest2 on 5/24/12 at 1:50

They should only lay off the cops who violate civil liberties, use extreme force, coerce fraudulent confessions while threaten bodily harm to suspect and people or pets associated with the suspect, and steal personal monies or items and destroy property in the car or residence.
I have a list of the 7 cops who did this to me and all the proof I need!!

By: hattrick3 on 5/24/12 at 1:54

Wasn't it a Hermitage cop who was fired because he was drunk while on duty? Sounds like Brian has a good base to start from with valid evidence.

By: sharko20 on 5/24/12 at 3:26

Karl Marx Dean can take his property tax hike and stick it!!! Go ahead, lay some officers off. The sky won't fall. StOP SPENDING. Metro government drunk on spending other people's (aka tax payers) money.

By: govskeptic on 5/24/12 at 3:30

Capt Anderson is playing a numbers game as many others do when
comparing Metro Nashville Davidson Co. to Memphis Shelby County.
2010 Census shows Davidson County at 626,681 population and
Shelby County at 927,644. That is a truer picture to compare versus
all of Metro to just the confined City Limit of Memphis! Why not go
ahead and compare with Atlanta population, it's only 420,000 within
the rather small actual City Limits, but a greater pop. of over 5 million?

By: Shadow63 on 5/24/12 at 3:38

Spooky sounds like he may just be the cop Brian is talking about. He knows the language and is typical of the current policementality. Intimidation under the color of authority. Perhaps he is willing to give his gun and billy club to Brian during the encounter and see what the other side of the fence feels like.
By the way Spooky stalking on the internet by police for personal reasons is illegal is't it?
Maybe some savvy nerd can do the same for you.

By: Shadow63 on 5/24/12 at 3:38

Spooky sounds like he may just be the cop Brian is talking about. He knows the language and is typical of the current policementality. Intimidation under the color of authority. Perhaps he is willing to give his gun and billy club to Brian during the encounter and see what the other side of the fence feels like.
By the way Spooky stalking on the internet by police for personal reasons is illegal is't it?
Maybe some savvy nerd can do the same for you.

By: nashmusic2244 on 5/24/12 at 5:57

LOL, tell the Mayor and Council to TRIM the FAT in City Hall and departments of excessive salaries.....before you GOUGE citizens again.....

Whoever votes for the tax increase should be VOTED OUT of office on their next election!!!..

By: cwdunstin on 5/24/12 at 6:46

What kills me is all the people who whine about wanting the police to arrive faster at their residence, slow people down on their street(s), protect their homes but they do not want to pay for it. THE REALITY IS WE LIVE IN AMERICA, THINGS COST MONEY. I DO NOT WANT THE POLICE DEPARTMENT TO LOSE ANYONE. QUIT COMPLAINING AND DEAL WITH IT. I PERSONALLY WILL NOT VOTE FOR ANY COUNCIL MAN/WOMAN THAT VOTES TO CUT PUBLIC SAFETY AND EDUCATION FUNDING!! Oh one more idea, if you do not want the property tax increase and do not want to support our city move!

By: Ask01 on 5/24/12 at 8:40

Considering the majority here oppose the tax increase, I propose those who do support the tax increase should move if they feel we are holding them back.

Majority still rules, or did something change?

By: Lou2 on 5/25/12 at 12:45

Hey, person from the future reading this. First, get a life and stop wasting your time.

But if you are like a an outerspacey anthropologist or something...what you need to know is that most of stuff is written by a bunch of angry old white men with too much time (well, except for that 'old' part...). They live on welfare but won't admit it. At the time, they called it stuff like "police" and "firemen" and "payouts to successful local hockey team so they don't relocate" and "nice, safe place for rich corporations from California to relocate to", all of which put money in their pockets.

Not to be confused with the "welfare" that poor people got (but many felt didn't deserve at the time, because clearly they had it coming). But the angry old white men don't want to pay for any of it. They think the value of their houses or their jobs just got that way by magic. Or by their good looks.

But see, they made their money on welfare. In fact, some of it even came from richer states up north, who for some reason were willing to transfer money down to what we called Tennessee. But now they really really don't want to let any of it go. It's kind of a shell game, and you have to follow the ball.

You might think this is nuts, but it made a lot of sense to us, and we are REALLY pissed that we have to pay for things! It probably doesn't to you future beings, who I assume can follow a thread of logic further than the end of your nose (which I assume you have 3 of, given that you are from the future and all).

By: standingonthetop on 5/25/12 at 12:59

I'm NOT surprised that this ass kissing puppet of a police chief would resort to trying to use scare tactics to help Mayor Dean ram his tax increase down the throats of the good citizens of Nashville! I hope people are smarter than that! Here's a few ideas for you chief to effectively increase your manpower and save money...

1. Return police officers to the neighborhoods to patrol instead of hounding them to write tickets all the time. Precincts should be in neighborhoods and we should have foot patrols in those neighborhoods as well thereby reducing fuel costs and fuel consumption. Also, no more take home cars unless they are emergency response personnel such as SWAT, Hostage Negotiators, etc. The PD also has an enormous amount of unused "extra cars" that are unneeded vehicles in it's fleet that can be sold off.

2. Stop letting five cars check out on a call that's not a serious call thereby backing up calls unnecessarily.

3. Institute a paddy wagon to pick up prisoners in each precinct area and take them to the precinct for booking with a booking slip instead of having a zone car drive all the way downtown and be out of service for 2.5 hrs minimum which leaves zones unprotected and thins manpower and response times. Prisoners booked at precincts can be transported once a night to the CJC if they cannot make bond while being held temporarily at the precincts.

Those are just three ideas that would save the salaries of the 200 officers you're threatening to lay off. Stop trying to extort the citizens of Nashville, and stop being a pawn with a badge!

By: Left-of-Local on 5/25/12 at 10:22

They're not perfect, and they're still pigs mostly, but the cops need to have amped up presence in Madison, and DNA labs help keep innocent people out of wrongful trouble. Of course, all the Obama-haters here are eager to trash Metro for the grant terms. No shock there.

The facts and the math are laid out, yet still all the curmudgeons come out of the woodwork. I still feel that if you can't stand the heat, get out of the city, and let those of us who know you get what you pay for go on ignoring you. Thanks.

By: Rasputin72 on 5/25/12 at 10:34

SteveBest2..........I believe you!

By: JudgeRoyBean on 5/26/12 at 5:42

Has there been an explanation of what the plan was to pay for the 50 extra officers once the grant expired, and why the plan didn't work and a tax increase is now necessary? There was a plan right? Maybe I missed it. I mean, they didn't just hire 50 extra officers without figuring out how to pay for them after the grant expired did they? Did they plan on financing the new hires with a tax increase? Sorry, so many questions.

By: Ask01 on 5/27/12 at 9:43

Judge, I respectfully submit, citing as evidence an established track record by politicians through recorded time, the plan was no plan at all.

Probably there was a rudimentary thought process, imagining a scenario in which economic improvements would boost revenues enough to cover the expenses. In the final analysis of the 'plan,' the end scheme was the standard political tactic of citing public safety concerns, on a par with education, to frighten the electorate into quietly accepting a tax increase.

Don't expect an answer from Metro government, not a real answer anyway.

Do expect Mayor Dean's supporters to post sophmoric arguments, juvenile name calling, and all manner of diversionary posts to deflect any serious inquiry as to why Metro leadership(?) allowed these events to transpire, and schools to deteriorate to such a level, all the while concentrating on other issues such as brokering corporate welfare deals, before deciding to address problems.

The "plan," a term which reminds me of a central plot theme in "Shadows and Fog," a great movie, by the way, seems to have actually been to 'wing it' and, if all else fails, raise taxes.

There are enough drones who will accuse opponents demanding responsible government of being backward facing rubes holding Nashville back from achieving a status equal to say, Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, Chicago, and numerous other large sprawling, impossible to manage large cities.

Just do as I do and ignore them.

Your Honor, I rest my case.

By: JudgeRoyBean on 5/28/12 at 8:07

Ask01, I suspect that you are absolutely correct. Now I am wondering why the media are not asking the question (about the "plan" or lack thereof) and demanding an answer. Maybe someone did and I missed it. If so, I'd sure like to see it.