"John Hickenlooper's Budget-Cut Pitch," a blog published last Wednesday, pointed out that Denver's mayor had cannily put the onus on unions representing police officers when it came to trimming costs. The key line in a letter to Denver residents read: "There will be no wage increase for police, fire and sheriff union employees, or there will be a reduction in force in those agencies to achieve the needed savings." Lo and behold, the Denver Police Protective Association, which had previously rejected such a deal, has now decided to take it, accepting a fiscal and political reality. Not that the DPPA is thrilled with the status quo. Indeed, the "Issues We Face" section of its website speaks about staffing levels in blunt terms:
Denver officers face an alarming situation. With emergency calls for help nearly doubling in the past thirty years and the City's population growing daily with new developments like Lowry and Stapleton, staffing levels still remain below what they were in the 1970's. Officers are often forced to handle too many calls with too few officers present. The result? Citizens' lives are put at risk because of longer response times and officers' lives are threatened because they must respond to dangerous situations without proper back-up.
All of that may be true -- but until the economy turns around, nothing of substance will be done to address it. Feel free to grow alarmed.
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