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JOE JANIS, San Clemente

Our city council has been asked to trim the budgets of all city departments in order to hire more deputies. At a recent council meeting, one resident suggested that since the fire department responded to only 64 fires last year, we should consider cutting fire positions to hire deputies. The Orange County Fire Authority responds to all emergencies, not just fires. In 2018, our firefighters responded to 5,200 incidents. Emergency medical services accounted for 3,812 responses, while other hazardous conditions accounted for 1,310 responses. It would be irresponsible to cut fire and emergency services to fund more deputies.

City employees are not underworked, as some believe. In addition to completing routine tasks and job assignments, city employees are constantly responding to citizen complaints and providing services for us. In addition to planning, organizing and leading their departments, department heads spend countless hours preparing staff reports so council can make informed decisions on important issues. If we take funds from city departments to supplement our police services budget, other city services will suffer. Before making any cuts, we need to determine how they will affect other services.

The passage of Propositions 47 and 57 has caused an increase in crime in many California cities.  Our homeless population grows daily, which also increases police demand. It appears we do need to hire more deputies to handle the increased workload, but let’s not be reckless in our attempt to do so.

Our police services budget is now at $17.8 million—already the highest budgeted service in the city. The budget increases every year. The cost of staffing one additional patrol car (24 hours, 7 days a week) would be approximately $1.5 million. Opinions vary on how many patrols are needed.

If we really want to get a handle on crime and our homeless situation, we must first realize that raiding other departments will not provide sufficient funds to solve our problem. We need a long-term solution. It is time for council to consider other options, including a measure that will dedicate funds to specifically address crime and homelessness for now and for the future.

 

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