PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Since he was named Port St. Lucie's police chief, Donald Shinnamon has had to pay as much attention to the budget, as the number of badges he has.
"It's very unpleasant. I've been here 20 months and it's very difficult."
Between city mandates and pension obligations, Chief Shinnamon had to cut nearly 5 and a half million dollars from its budget.
His last ditch solution means layoffs for 24 sworn officers like Courtney Robison. She;s a three year veteran who is scheduled to lose her job September 24th.
"I'm contacting friends in law enforcement to see if they can give me a good word. I'm updating my resume. Never thought I'd have to do that," said Robison as she choked back tears.
Chief Shinnamon said in the past three years, 25 percent of the sworn officers and civilian staff have been lost. So how will this affect public safety? The chief said the number of patrol cars on the road will be the same, but certain departments will bear the brunt.
"We're eliminating 9 detectives, 40% of our investigative resources. Crimes we've investigated in the past, not going to investigate," said Chief Shinnamon.
Those could be minor traffic crashes as the traffic unit will be cut in half. The chief said the public could see longer response times.
"We're left to find level of service that is sustainable with revenue city is going to get... that's just painful for people," added the chief.
The chief's comments come in the midst of a war of words between the police union and the city mayor.
The police union called for the resignation of mayor Patricia Christensen after she sent and e-mail about her son's arrest. In it, she claimed the police department was out for her blood. Chief Shinnamon wouldn't comment on the e-mail or the back and forth between the mayor and the police union.
Crime is down 11-percent in the city this year and the chief admits the department will be hard pressed to keep those numbers down, with the added pressure soon to be placed on his department.
Copyright (c) 2010 The E. W . Scripps Company and Angie's List
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