Police, Sheriff say budgets cuts can't be too deep

Tuesday, March 30, 2010 at 3:19pm

Playing to Mayor Karl Dean's emphasis on reducing crime, two Metro agencies on that front line said Tuesday the proposed 7.5 percent budget cuts to their departments are not feasible.

Sheriff Daron Hall said a 1 to 2 percent cut for his office was “reasonable,” while Metro police Chief Ronal Serpas said his department needs eight new laboratory supervisors and to continue to move forward with plans for two new precincts in Madison and South Nashville.

After Dean said, “Zero is not an option,” Hall said his office could live with more reasonable cuts depending on what happens across the street with the police department.

The sheriff said a 7.5 percent reduction would shave $4.4 million from his budget and cost 87 positions. That would mean closing a smaller jail facility or two and transferring inmates to other facilities, which would cost more in the long run.

But Hall also said his office is directly linked to what happens with the police department. If more cops hit the streets, more bad guys end up in jail and in the care of the Sheriff’s Office.

With federal grants paying salaries and benefits for the first three years, the police department is set to add 50 more officers now in the training academy.

A 7.5 percent cut in the police budget would translate to laying off 92 police officers, Serpas said, “a devastating blow” to progress made in crime reduction during recent years.

“But our department and your administration have always looked to the future,” Serpas said, adding that the department needs to hire the eight lab supervisors to begin the accreditation process for the new West Precinct Forensic Crime Laboratory, expected to open in the fall of 2011.

“I think you know where I stand,” Dean answered, before wrapping up another department hearing with a common phrase this year.

“It’s a tough budget year," he said. "We’ll do the best we can.”

6 Comments on this post:

By: idgaf on 3/31/10 at 6:26

Hey Slurpass you didn't need a crime lab to begin with.

By: Kosh III on 3/31/10 at 7:48

We certainly need the two new precincts.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 3/31/10 at 7:51

i agree, Kosh. we can't cut MNPD.

By: Dragon on 3/31/10 at 12:48

FTA - "But Hall also said his office is directly linked to what happens with the police department. If more cops hit the streets, more bad guys end up in jail and in the care of the Sheriff’s Office."

Brilliant!!!! Quit arresting so many bad guys and you can save money.

By: concernedtaxpayer on 3/31/10 at 1:32

Honestly, I think if Metro Public Works has to suffer from a 7.5% cut then both of these departments can also especially MNPD. Every year Serpas wants more money to hire new officers while other departments have to make cuts. MNPD can learn how to cut wasteful expenses. For example, during some events MNPD has 4 officers blocking one street downtown. What is wrong with putting up concrete barricades and only having one or two officers. Another similar case is the construction that has been on weekends on I-440. MNPD has been putting officers in patrol cars to block on ramps onto I-440. Why not park police cars or Public Works trucks blocking these on ramps and that way no officers have to sit in a car for the whole weekend. This is very wasteful on tax dollars and a waste of police officers time when they could be out responding calls and looking for drunk drivers. With that being said, MNPD can suffer a little if other departments also have to suffer.

By: idgaf on 3/31/10 at 7:00

Kosh why would you need two new precients? They do nothing but consume money and if they are open to the public consume manpower that could be on the street?