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Ohio Police Chief: $1.5M in Cuts In Store for 2011

Dayton Daily News

November 18, 2010

DAYTON, OH — Despite nearly $25 million in budget reductions that have erased more than 100 police officer positions since 2001, Dayton’s crime rates continue to drop, according to police statistics.

Dayton’s population decline probably is the largest factor in that decrease, but police Chief Richard Biehl will take the drop any way he can get it.

Since his arrival in 2008, Biehl has stripped his operating budget of nearly $10 million and lost dozens of officers through attrition.

He must take another $1.5 million out next year as the city tries to eliminate $5 million in spending next year to balance a $150 million operating budget.

The impact of the recent cuts will be the elimination of the grand auto theft unit, reduced “proactive” policing and the possibility the department will not be able to answer all calls for service by 2012.

Dayton currently has about one officer per 390 residents, according to U.S. Census Bureau data, a larger ratio than cities such as Cleveland and Cincinnati, which currently have about 280 residents per officer.

But Cleveland and Cincinnati continue to lose officers at a much quicker pace than Dayton.

Cleveland laid off 250 officers in 2005, and Cincinnati’s police chief two weeks ago proposed laying off 150 officers in order to help the city balance its budget.

Biehl said Dayton has avoided massive layoffs by conservative budgeting and cites the Community Initiative to Reduce Gun Violence and neighborhood initiatives like the pizza delivery robbery prevention training as ways his department has done more with less.

His reports show gang-related homicides are down from 12 in 2008 to four this year through October. But he worries it can all be undone.

“That is the angst of any police chief anywhere in the world, that all this good work can be undone,” Biehl said. “All you can do is move forward while looking for the best solutions to the problems presented to you.”

Police union president Randy Beane said officers understand the city’s budget difficulties, but added officers are angered by Biehl’s decision to create another major’s position in his district reorganization plan, while rank-and-file positions dwindle.

“It sends the wrong message because you have a smaller staff but you’re adding administrative positions,” Beane said. “We accepted $800,000 in concessions during our contract negotiations because it was the right thing to do. Then Chief Biehl creates another administrative position.”

Biehl contends the position is replacing two sergeants and one lieutenant position that will do dark next year. He said he understands officers might be upset, but he has to live within his means.

“Would I like to have more money? Heck yeah,” he said. “People need to get on board and come up with solutions to problems because I don’t have time for constant complaining.”

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