York: Declining Police Force Threatens Crime Prevention

By Stephanie Parkinson

October 16, 2012 Updated Oct 16, 2012 at 5:56 PM EDT

Fort Wayne, Ind. (incnow.tv) – Mayor Tom Henry announced Monday a solution to keep the city’s budget in check for 2013. But Police Chief Rusty York says the city needs to start looking ahead as the police force continues to lose officers.

"We're going to have to do something to address the officers we've lost,” said York.

Fort Wayne's police force is down 21 officers and by the end of 2013 they expect to lose another 8 to 10 officers to retirement.

The 2013 budget isn't allowing for an academy to add any new officers. York says the longer his force operates shorthanded the closer they are to cutting crime fighting resources.

"We have school resource officers; we have crime prevention officers. As we lose more and more officers initially that will be our first phase, pulling these officers back on the street,” said York.

Even if they started adding new officers today it takes time to get them on the streets.

"Whenever we place an academy it's going to be a year and in that year we're going to have even more people probably retire,” said York.

But the funding isn't there to bring on the needed officers. The cost of bringing the force back to full capacity, adding 21 to 22 officers, is $1.2 million a year.

"Council is really going to have to examine what the citizens of Fort Wayne expect from a police department and what they're willing to pay for,” said York.

York stresses these changes wouldn't impact response times, but says long term this could increase crime in the community.

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