New London residents are protesting potential cuts to the city police department – losses of both men and women and K9 officers.
Mayor Justin Finizio says some cuts might be necessary because of budget constraints. The police chief has said under the 2014 approved budget, as many as 15 officers could lose their jobs. As the city and the police union are in the midst of contract negotiations, residents who packed a public safety committee meeting Tuesday say the police department is not a place to look for savings.
Finizio has suggested two of the city’s three K9s should be cut, one retired because its arthritic condition requires medicine that costs hundreds of dollars a year, the other, whose handler left the force, will be donated to another city, saving hundreds in boarding costs.
Residents argue the value lost will much greater, some citing the Willimantic police officer shot Tuesday and the 15 K9s used to find the suspect, “they are cops, they have badges, and they do the job.”
Of even greater concern to some are the men and women officers on the chopping block. The police union website claims 12 officers have left for jobs in other cities in the last month alone. One detective suggested Tuesday they are leaving because of poor morale and the fear of getting laid off. With that happening he and others worry the city is at risk, “if we continue to lose the officers we are losing, we can only do so much.”