The city of Saginaw, Mich. is one of the most dangerous cities in America, but is still laying off public safety officers due to budgetary constraints. According to MLive, a number of firefighters have received pink slips.
The layoffs came one week after the Saginaw City Manager Darnell Earley confirmed they’d be on their way during a strategic planning session. He cited avoiding a possible budget deficit as the reason for the firings.
Saginaw Police Officers Association President Doug Wortley said 21 officers were on the receiving end of layoff notices. Thomas Raines, president of the International Association of Fire Firefighters Saginaw chapter said 15 firefighters also received pink slips. Raines said the firings marked a sad day for the city and the SPOA president said the SPOA (a POAM member), would offer alternative solutions to the city.
“We gave the city two options we would work with,” Wortley said. “We effectively put the ball back in the city’s court on this.”
In the most recent POAM podcast, POAM President Jim Tignanelli discussed how much things have changed in Saginaw. About 10 years ago, the city boasted a police force comprised of 175 officers. Now, after the latest round of layoffs, that number has dwindled to a lowly 59. That’s about one-third of what it used to be. The fire department has seen a similar decrease in employees. Forty-five firefighters remain employed by the city compared to the what used to be a department with more than 100 firefighters.
These cuts are all happening while the city is seeing crime rates rise, which means fewer police officers and firefighters will have to carry bigger workloads as time goes on. Not to mention the fact that Saginaw City Manager Darnell Earley is drawing a yearly salary of $110,000 (with retirement benefits). Earley was hired in September 2005 as interim city manager and has been with the city ever since. While Earley’s salary is about average according to a survey of 2,556 governments conducted by the International City/County Management Association, it still raises eyebrows considering the city’s financial troubles.
Only time will tell what lies ahead for Saginaw and its public safety officers. But one thing is for sure–if the city continues down the current path, there won’t be enough police for firefighters to protect the city.
What do you think will help the city of Saginaw? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
UPDATE: Saginaw mayor wants to relegate police & fire to focus on local ordinance violations
Saginaw Mayor Greg Branch recently released a proposal for how he wants to overhaul the city’s public safety departments. According to MLive, his plan shift the focus for police and fire personnel to enforcing local ordinance violations from other crimes. These violations could be moneymakers for the city, the mayor claimed.
The mayor said, “Where we would make the big money would be on non-traffic ordinance violations, which are those quality of life things.”
These “quality of life things” include ordinances like noise violations, illegal fireworks, vandalism and more. Branch also said that when the focus is shifted to these sort of violations, overall crime in the city will decrease. But what concerns us about the mayor’s plan is that he is putting the city’s coffers before its citizens. What do you think of the mayor’s plan?