HOUSTON -- Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland haspresented a plan that wouldcut 181 police officers and 445 civilians, according to HPD sources.
The employees would reportedlybe notifiedon May 12 that their jobs willbeeliminated in August.
McClellandconfirmed the numbers Thursday, saying that's the worst-case scenario.
Do I believe that that s going to happen? I don t know. Do I believe that I will get some additional funding for HPD? I think I am, he said.
McCllelland said it would takean extra $17 million to prevent layoffs.
The number s still in flux and we re still working through it, said Mayor Annise Parker, refusing to comment on specific figures.
Mayor Parkersaid she hopes to exclude police officers and firefightersfrom layoffs when she presents her final budget to council in mid-May.
I believe that all the city services are important, but public safety is the number one city service that we provide, and my goal is that we not lay off a single police officer or a single firefighter, Parker said.
But the head of the police union points out that even civilian layoffs at HPDwould impact public safety.
For every civilian we lay off, we have to have a police officer backfill that position, said Gary Blankinship, head of the Houston Police Officers Union. And that means pulling a police officer away from answering a call for service or investigating crimes.
Now those officers must wait for the mayor s next move.
Obviously, we re somewhat concerned about that, but we understand that there have to be cuts made, said one officer who didn t want to be identified. Whatever we need to do, we'll do to get the job done.
It s already hard to find police officers whenever you do need them. Cutting back, it s going to be even harder,so we really need them out here on the streets, said Cynthia Stennet, a Houston resident.
The Houston Fire Department is also expected to face layoffs. The fire chief's proposed budget would cut about 200 jobs, according to Jeff Caynon, the head of the firefighters' union.
All city department heads were asked to come up with a plan to cut expensesbecause of the epic $130 million budget shortfall. The mayor has recently said that estimate has been lowered to about $80 million. The total cuts from each department will range from 5 percent to 27 percent.