Members of the Salt Lake City Council say the police department's crime prevention and crime analysis units are too important to cut, despite tight economic times.
"Somehow I think this council has to find the ways and means of making those units functional again," said Councilman Wayne Horrocks, who headed the crime prevention unit before he took office in January.Horrocks said the unit cut the city's crime rate by 381/2 percent, and the department would need more officers to combat a crime wave if the preventive program were eliminated.
Council budget analyst Cam Caldwell recommended juggling money from other police programs to fund the units, but council members asked that cuts in other departments be considered as well.
Mayor Palmer DePaulis recommended a $80.3 million general fund budget, which is a 1.5 percent cut from last year's adopted budget. The mayor's budget included 3 percent cuts in each city department, including a $600,000 reduction for police.
Acting Police Chief Ed Johnson said the crime analysis and crime prevention units are important, but removing them wouldn't affect the city's patrol strength. Other proposed cuts would include the burglar alarm and vehicle inspection programs, and elimination of two school resource officers.
"The cuts were made because those affected the officers on the street the least," Johnson said.
Council members have to adopt the city's budget by June 9. They are reviewing the mayor's proposal department by department during three evening meetings per week. A public hearing on the budget is scheduled May 24.
Caldwell said he asked city administrators to recommend other cuts besides the crime prevention and crime analysis program, but was turned down.
So Caldwell identified his own, which included cutting the police department's travel budget, delaying the hiring a new recruit class and trimming the department's overtime budget. Additional funding might come by soliciting public donations to pay for neighborhood watch.