I don't know if I can find the right words to describe a layoff of 60-90 Akron Police Officers or more. Probably because I'm friends with so many of them from over the years. I always tell people that Akron is a big city, but a small town - translation: we don't need six degrees of separation to know who is who.
The city's prediction of a year-end deficit of $4 million is staggering considering all the cuts we've seen in the last 18 months. Early retirements, buyouts, etc .. shouldn't that have helped us beyond this?
I spoke in depth with FOP President Paul Hlynsky last week and then with Mayor Plusquellic by phone today. Both are passionate about their positions and both agree they want to save jobs, every single one they can.
But can they work together to make it a reality?
Whether it's 10 officers or 100, police layoffs will hurt the city. Without the Akron Schools to hire more (not going to happen) or some other revenue source coming in in the next few weeks (maybe the COPS grant the Mayor applied for in Washington), we ARE going to see layoffs in Akron in the next month.
One local leader told me there has been talk of a study to limit the department to two officers per every 1,000 residents. That would give us a police force of around 400 give or take. That's a lot less than we have now. Would a force that size really work in Akron?
City Hall has NOTHING to gain by cooking the books to make us look poor and let people go.
APD has NOTHING to gain by playing chicken with a budget crisis.
Akron has EVERYTHING to lose if we can't find middle ground.