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TPD budget plan would cut 50 cops, shift assignments

$7M savings from staffing changes, Magnus says

A list of budget cuts and reorganized positions proposed by new Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus would mean fewer sworn officers, but pull cops from behind desks and put them on patrol, he said in a memo obtained by TucsonSentinel.com.

About 50 officer positions would be eliminated, with many special duty cops instead being assigned to divisions across the city under the proposal by Magnus.

All Tucson city departments were asked to provide lists of possible cuts by City Manager Michael Ortega, outlining potential cuts of 5 and 10 percent or more. While memos from other departments have not been provided to us, city insiders have said that extensive cuts were also proposed by other department heads.

How to cover the remaining $25 million deficit in next year's city budget was to have been the topic of a City Council study session Tuesday, but that meeting was canceled. In December, the funding shortfall for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2016, was projected to be $42 million, but a series of cuts have narrowed the gap.

In a memo to TPD staffers, Magnus said Tuesday that his outline will offer "considerable savings" while "refocusing our energies around our core policing services, including geographic patrol functions."

The police budget must be approved by the Council as part of the city's overall fiscal plan.

Although TPD's authorized strength is 992 sworn officers, the department has fewer on the payroll, and will be down to about 880 officers on July 1, he said.

If no new officers were hired and trained, the natural rate of attrition would see the department down to about 808 officers by the end of the fiscal year, Magnus said.

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While that lower staffing would save about $14.5 million, Magnus said that number of sworn officers would be "completely untenable."

"Officer safety, community responsiveness, and overall effectiveness dictate that we continue to hire police officers," he said.

Magnus said that "while we are prepared to go as low as 830 sworn officers," there must be, at any one time, 40-80 additional recruits going through the training academy as well.

With about $3.9 million in annual training costs, along with $2 million for new police vehicles and funding for uniforms, cell phones and computer system upgrades, Magnus projected an overall savings of $7 million.

The reduced force levels mean changing the duties of many officers under Magnus's plan.

About 35 officers and sergeants from various special assignments would be transferred to patrol duties under the chief's proposal, along with 15 detectives moved from TPD's Investigative Services division to Field Services.

The current Downtown Division would be eliminated, with patrols in the area conducted by officers of the West Division.

Foot patrols would increase in Downtown and along 4th Avenue, with officers in a new Entertainment District sector assigned to bicycle and walking beats.

Nearly all of TPD's motorcycle traffic cops would be assigned to the force's various divisions, rather than being part of a separate Traffic Division, Magnus said.

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