7 positions cut from Naperville police force

November 9, 2010 (NAPERVILLE, Ill.)

The police union has filed an unfair labor notice with the state labor relations board and plans to picket next week.

Naperville sees a $5 million budget hole ahead and among the cuts are seven police officers. One position was already vacant. Six less senior cops have now been laid off.

"Layoffs are always a very difficult decision and are a last resort for us as a municipality," said Douglas Krieger, Naperville city manager. "As our next fiscal year's budget became clear, it became obvious to me that we would not be able to balance the budget without the elimination of personnel.

Police officers in Naperville recently won an arbitrator's judgment for a 9 percent pay hike over three years -- half of that is retroactive, a sizable one time payout, which the city says exacerbates an already strained budget.

The Fraternal Order of Police says that's nonsense. The city, it claims, is $20 million to the good and that cutting cops compromises public safety.

"In February of 2010, they reduced the dept force by 12 officers, then we've had retirees. Now we're talking about an additional seven positions," said Tamara Cummings, Fraternal Order of Police general counsel. "It's a safety concern, not just for the citizenry, but for my officers."

Cutting cops off the payroll is a highly charged issue, and Naperville is certainly not alone.

Just in the last week, in addition to the Naperville layoffs, Lake County, Indiana, laid off 12 officers. Prospect Heights cut six, nearly a third of the sworn officers, and Aurora says if it doesn't get $2 million in salary and benefit cuts, it will furlough 20-25 cops.

This is not the first round of cuts in sworn officers in Naperville, and union leaders say the patrol force of 131 is now dangerously low. City official say emergency response times won't be affected, but realigning personnel could mean a longer wait on less urgent calls.

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