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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Heads of Police, Fire Departments Frown On Proposed Budget Cuts

Posted By on Thu, Jun 11, 2009 at 4:53 PM

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Last night, the Board of Supervisors proposed cuts of about $82 million to the budgets of San Francisco police, fire and sheriff's departments. Today, those departments got together and called a press conference.

Police Chief Heather Fong, Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White, Police Commissioner Theresa Sparks, Police Commissioner Tim Mazzucco, Assistant Police Chief Jim Lynch, and Deputy Police Chief David Shinn all took turns explaining to jotting journalists and TV news crews that the cuts would go too deep, and that lives were at stake.

 "The Board of Supervisors need to consider, what is the value of human life?" said Mazzucco, who pointed to the number of homicides so far this year (20), in comparison to last year (45), as evidence that the SFPD has been doing something right. Cutting the SFPD budget by a proposed $42 million would set the department back five years, the brass agreed. Fong warned that the cuts could cost 325 officers their jobs, and others chimed in that foot patrol programs, 911 response time, the cold case unit, and the nighttime homicide and robbery units might be adversely affected.

Fong stressed, however, that it was early in the budgeting process, as did Fire Chief Hayes-White, whose department faces a potential $23 million budget cut.

Hayes-White tentatively threw some numbers out as well, estimating that 173 firefighters could lose their jobs, and 12 of 42 fire stations would have to close, while simultaneously acknowledging the difficulty in managing the budget shortfall. "Everyone does need to share the pain," she said.   

Stay tuned for more exciting discussion of budgetary turmoil, which will last until the end of July.  

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Ashley Harrell

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