February 18, 2009

Police seek 2 percent budget hike, without new cars

To hold its proposed budget increase below the 2 percent threshold set by Mayor Art Ward, the police department plans to put off buying any new cars and may leave three positions unfilled in the coming year.

“There’s not a lot of options out there,” Ward said.

Delaying the purchase of police cruisers for the coming fiscal year would mean the department would seek to buy at least a dozen in the following year, said Capt. Daniel McIntyre. By then, he said, it would be “a safety issue” for officers.

McIntyre said he would like to see the city buy at least four cruisers this year – for $109,000 – in order to cushion the blow the next budget season, which is shaping up to be at least as difficult given projected state deficits for 2010.

Ward said he wouldn’t be surprised if the city comes up with the money to purchase the desired police cars this year, but doesn’t want to include it in the spending plan at this point.

The city’s police board gave its unanimous backing to the $13.44 million police budget this week, calling it as bare bones as possible without jeopardizing public safety.

“Our budget is salary heavy,” McIntyre said, so there’s not a lot to cut without reducing the number of officers on the payroll.

The approved spending plan is just shy of a 2 percent hike. If the three positions are not filled, it would total less than 1 percent.

Both Chief John DiVenere and Ward said it’s possible there may be federal money available to add officers. That would perhaps make it possible to add back the three officers and still hold the budget hike to less than 1 percent.

Ward said he would also like the police to explore changing the hours of one of two full-time animal control officers, who currently works from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

He said that if the records indicate it would save money, perhaps the job could run from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. in order to reduce the number of times an animal control officer is called in after leaving work.

If one is called, he gets at least four hour of overtime. Between them, the two animal control officers earn $10,000 in overtime annually, officials said. Ward said he would like to try to reduce that.

The police are looking at only two new equipment purchases for the coming year: a new digital arrest booking system to replace an aging, unsupported one and six more state-of-the-art defibrillators so every regular cruiser would have one.

McIntyre said the existing booking system can’t be relied on any longer. He said that if it fails, there’s no way to fix it.

“We’d go back to the stone age” in terms of logging in arrests, McIntyre said.

The budget also increases the allocation for maintenance of the existing cars since it would likely rise if there are fewer new cruisers than usual.

Ward said he recognizes the stinginess of the plan.

But, he said, “It’s going to be a tough, tough, tough year” for everyone as the city tries to cope with the impact of the recession.

Still, the mayor said, he won’t do anything that would “compromise the safety of any of our officers.”

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com


Anonymous said...

Art, good move--put off the spending until after the election.

You aren't cutting costs/expenses, you are just deferring them.
Musta leaned from Nicastro.

Also, do you still budget for unfilled positions?

Anonymous said...

if they are called in for even 1 hour of overtime they get paid a minimum of 4 hours for each and every time? wow.

Anonymous said...

Damned if he does/damned if he doesn't....

Anonymous said...

Then why doesn't he do, and be dammed for helping the people???

Anonymous said...

“Our budget is salary heavy,” McIntyre said.

AH HAH I think is see the problem.

Anonymous said...

If they don't budget for the positions, then they have cut them.

Or have they?

Anonymous said...

Good thinking: take away their tools, but still expect them to do their job.

Anonymous said...

If by examining the entire police budget, all Ward can come up with is shifting the hours of animal control officers to save $10,000, then we should just lock up and turn the lights off on our way out of town. That is incredibly sad.

Anonymous said...

What tools are they being deprived of? New cars? Are you serious?

Anonymous said...

In the current economic environment why does the Chief continue to hire new cops? 7!! have recently graduated from the police academy according to my cop friends. The cops I know tell me that there's so many cops now that they have to double up in the cars because there's not even enough cars to go around.

Why does Bristol need so many officers? Neither the population nor the commercial base have increased to warrant so many new hires when every other place is freezing hiring or even laying off. It seems like a colossal waste of money.

Anonymous said...

Simple fact is that crime goes up during bad times, crime is up now.

Mayor Ward directed that there be tow officers in a car, to save gas money. (False economy).

Cut back on OT and health issues go down. Of course your police buddies lose the OT that is their bitch.

Anonymous said...

Ward, the master of smoke and mirrors!

Anonymous said...

not buying police cars is merely robbing Peter to pay Paul. The cars are used 24 hours a day, for three shifts. There is no downtime. All this will due is create more mechanics bills.

Anonymous said...

Does this mean that Lavigne will have to do some work?

Anonymous said...

Don't worry about the police cars, Artie will find the money just before the election!

Anonymous said...

"All this will due is create more mechanics bills."

The city has mechanics on salary.

Also, the cars are not used 24 hours a day.

Anonymous said...

Putting two officers in a car to save gas is a poor use of officers. How can these officers respond to seperate calls at the same time if they are riding in the same car. Does one drop off the other and come back and pick him/her up later?

This is a perfect example of throwing away dollars in order to save a few pennies. Bad policy.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget, the ones NOT being replaced are the oldest, maybe 4 years old, with over 100,000 miles.

Not a good decision Mr. Ward

Anonymous said...


Wow, I didn't know that cops didn't ride around 24/7.

That will sure save money.

Yes, we have mechanics on "salary".
But won't this require additional time making repairs? And will we get the parts for nothing?

Anonymous said...

The mechanics "on salary" are actually "hourly" employees and they are not ASE certified mechanics. The insurance company and the city attorney require repairs to be done by ASE certified mechanics. And, the city does not have the appropriate shop set up with the appropriate tools and equipment which is why most work is sub'd out and the city can't just hire ASE mechanics.

Anonymous said...

Why are we hiring more cops when we could just pay overtime and use the officers when we need them. This would save on insurance costs, health benefits, sick time, equipment and training. This is what we do in the private sector, why wouldn't it work at the police department. It's certainly much less cost effective and it works in alot of companies.

Anonymous said...

So fire the non-certified mechanics and hire ASE certified mechanics, I'm sure our present mechanics are grossly overpayed anyhow. As for facilities, I am pretty sure more of the repairs can be made with the tools and facilities we already own at Fleet Depot.

Anonymous said...

A long, hard look at the P.D. is long overdue. The Chief is a nice guy but not exactly the "take charge" type. No real reaction to the several embarassments over the last few years, such as the do-nothing detective, the "Racist Radio Station",etc. The problem is, the Police Board doesn't want to do anything more than hand out bravery citations and it would be political suicide for anyone to really try to overhaul the system. Just ask Roger Michelle, (not that he didn't deserve everything he got for his little personal vendetta).

Anonymous said...


And what do you do with the current mechanics, fire them?

How many certified do you hire to cover the needs, and to cover vacations, sick time etc?

Certified at 35K/yr costs @60K, or almost the cost of 3 cars.

Do the math!

Anonymous said...

If they couldn't get rid of Rosenthal, how are they going to get rid of the Chief??

Anonymous said...

Getting rid of a chief is tough...his job is protected by state law.

Anonymous said...

Ward ain't cutting, he is just putting off necessary expenditures!

Just like Frank, he will be leaving a mess for someone else to clrean up!

Anonymous said...


But Rosenthal isn't!!!

Anonymous said...

Ward is just an empty suit!

Anonymous said...

If we took the money from CLP that they offered, we could buy at least four police cars.

Thanks Johnson.