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Published: Friday, 11/7/2008

Toledo to cut 11 to 13 cadets in police class

BY LAREN WEBER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The city's police class slated to begin Dec. 1 will be reduced anywhere from 11 to 13 cadets in an effort to offset Toledo's projected $10 million deficit, city and police officials said yesterday.

Robert Reinbolt, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner's chief of staff, said all 33 cadets have been encouraged not to quit their jobs in case they are not among the 20 to 22 cadets selected to begin the academy.

"We put everybody on notice," he said. "We're going to put as many in that class as we can afford. There's just no money to go around."

Those not hired for this year's police class will be first in line when the next police class is hired, Mr. Reinbolt said, adding he is unsure when the budget would allow for that.

Dan Wagner, president of the Toledo Police Patrolman's Association, said reducing the class could bring the total number of uniformed officers close to 600 next year.

He said about 30 officers will have retired by the end of this year and more than a dozen are expected to retire next year. "We were hoping this class was going to keep our head above water," Mr. Wagner said.

Mr. Reinbolt said the city is aware of manpower concerns, and the administration will explore other options to ensure an adequate number of officers is assigned to the streets. "We need to cut millions of dollars out of the budget," he said. "There are a lot of factors, a lot of issues going on when you have big budget problems."

Mr. Wagner predicted the reduction will end up costing the city more in overtime costs as a result of trying to keep the streets "adequately manned."

Councilman D. Michael Collins, a retired Toledo police officer and former president of the patrolman's union, also expressed concerns about reducing the size of the police class, calling the move "absolutely irresponsible."

He said 33 cadets wouldn't have been sufficient enough to maintain safe manpower levels next year, let alone any fewer than that.

"I think it's extremely important that the mayor address the fundamental responsibilities of municipal government with the number one priority being public safety," Mr. Collins said.

"His failure to recognize this responsibility not only is arrogant and irresponsible but, more importantly, he is compromising the safety of the officers serving in both safety forces as well as the community that we are all sworn to serve."

On Wednesday, Toledo City Council members agreed unanimously to authorize the mayor to hire 15 more firefighters to save the city money on overtime.

The city budgeted $1.53 million for the fire department's overtime and had spent almost $2.5 million by the end of September.

The required minimum manning of 103 firefighters is blamed for the increased overtime cost in 2008.

Hiring 40 people instead of the planned 25 would save the city $510,000 in the 2009 budget, said Councilman Joe McNamara, who suggested the additional firefighter hirings.

Contact Laren Weber at:

lweber@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.



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