KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- As city departments wrestle with planned budget cuts, the police chief says a 400-person loss of police personnel would be "devastating," according to a post on the chief's blog.
Mayor Quinton Lucas told departments last week to come up with a plan to reduce their budgets by 11 percent in order to make up for an anticipated $60 million budget shortfall in the coming year. Sales taxes, earnings taxes and tourism dollars are all significantly down during the pandemic.
Police Chief Rick Smith maintains an official "KCPD Chief's Blog" where he interacts with the public on a variety of issues. On Wednesday morning, he outlined what the police department may have to do to meet that 11 percent budget cut threshold.
To implement a $26 million cut, the department would have to let go about 400 employees, and the rest would have to take two-week furloughs. It would also have to close two patrol divisions and consolidate some of those staff with existing divisions.
"That removes one-third of police stations in Kansas City," Smith said.
The chief's forecast did not make note of potential administrative cuts that could be made before having to turn cuts further inward. The Mayor's Office said the city Finance Department has identified $59 million in potential overlap on administrative costs between the police department and the city. The Finance Department suggested the police department look there for cuts first rather than at cutting officers if possible.
The police chief said the department would also have to eliminate several specialty units, including the Helicopter Unit, Traffic Enforcement Squad, Community Interaction Officers, School Resource Officers and social workers.
There would also need to be a hiring freeze and no new officers out of the Academy in 2020 and 2021, Smith said.
"We are already doing our part to help in these tough economic times. We've cut $5.6 million from the current fiscal year's budget this summer," Smith noted. "The last time we took a major budget hit was in the recession of 2008. It took us 10 years to come close to regaining the staffing we had then."
The chief also worried what effect the budget cuts could have on the fight against violent crime in a year that's seen record homicide numbers to this point.
"We have had an unprecedented increase in violent crime in 2020," he said. "One can only imagine how that will change with reduced law enforcement presence and reduced investigations."
From the Chief's Blog:
PROPOSALS TO MEET AN 11% REDUCTION
- Close North Patrol Division (which serves about 67,600 people across 84.8 square miles) and consolidate it with Shoal Creek Patrol Division; and close Central Patrol Division (which serves about 62,300 people across 17 square miles) and consolidate it with East Patrol. That removes one-third of police stations in Kansas City.
- Eliminate the Helicopter Unit, a Traffic Enforcement Squad, Community Interaction Officers, School Resource Officers, Police Athletic League, CAN Centers, social workers and a majority of Impact Squad officers, who proactively address crime. All of those officers would be reassigned to patrol and answer 911 calls.
- Reduce property crimes detectives.
- A hiring freeze and no new Academy classes in 2020 or 2021. We would lose more than 120 police officers through this.
- A reduction of 13 people at the Kansas City Regional Crime Lab.
- Eliminate numerous support staff positions in areas ranging from information technology to fleet operations.