Thursday, August 19, 2004

Veteran officers returning to streets

By Jane Prendergast
Enquirer staff writer

Starting Monday, 25 Cincinnati police officers assigned to desk jobs will be back on the streets as part of the chief's plan to better use officers while he cuts costs.

The most obvious effect to some citizens may be a reduction in the number of hours crime victims can report minor incidents over the phone. Losing four of its nine staff, the Telephone Crime Reporting Unit will now be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It had operated 14 hours a day.

Calls to the unit are down more than 30 percent this year when compared to last year, so putting those officers on the streets is a better use of them, Chief Tom Streicher said Wednesday.

The moves were part of Mayor Charlie Luken's announcement last week that the city will see a $7.8 million budget deficit by the end of the year if departments don't make cuts. He banned all nonessential travel and instituted a citywide hiring freeze.

The police piece of financial tightening is $400,000, to be saved by delaying the next recruit class from September until mid-December. Those 37 recruits won't be paid for the first time until January, so their salaries can be counted - and are planned for - in the 2005 budget, Streicher said. The current class of 26 graduates on Friday and will start working this weekend.

In an effort to make up for delaying the recruit class, the chief moved 25 veteran officers from jobs in places like the Telephone Crime Reporting Unit, the impound lot and training.

"Part of it is really like an efficiency study of the department,'' Streicher said. "There are some good sides to it.''

Among the other moves:

• Officer Eric Franz, who will continue to oversee the Citizens on Patrol groups and volunteer surveillance teams, will go back to being a neighborhood officer.

• Four officers assigned to the FBI's local office will return to the investigations unit. The chief said they will continue to work informally with the FBI but will have other cases, too.

• Three veteran officers move from training to District 1.

Some reshuffling could occur again. The three training officers, for example, will have to go back to the training unit by year's end because they are the officers certified to train new recruits.


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