What's missing?

The new budget - for a cash-strapped city, is painful at best. Downright dangerous at worst.

We know about the FD getting cut by 6 positions, and the shuffle of equipment. That's bad.

What has not been spoken of are the cuts to the PD.

Suddenly I am thinking that we are about 2 years too late on the vote.

The Roanoke City Police Department, the only department where on any given day - around 9:30 in the morning, there might very well be 2 officers on patrol for the entire city while the rest sit around court, is facing a $1.2+ Million Dollar cut.

Let's say you wake up one morning and find your garden hose missing in action. Now you have no idea who took it, and it's not all that urgent, but you do feel the need to report it - as some of your neighbors have had other garden implements vanish recently. You call down to the HQ, and are put on the line with a Citizen Service operator. They take the report - file it, and ship it down to the correct officer for follow up as time warrants.

At least something gets done, and the report stays active until the officer, as part of his or her regular duties, closes it out.

That's before July 1. As of July 1 - those operators have been given notice that they will most likely be let go, pending budget.

So - no more Citizen Service operators, no more people to take your report and get it checked out in a fairly timely way. No more reports getting to officers, who as part of their normal duties, would investigate and close out the report.

Nope. Now they will be taking patrol officers off the street to staff the phone lines.

Let's take my home turf - Southeast, as an example.

Many years back, when Madame Burcham was just cutting her teeth in this city, the state and federal prosecutors came to the city to complain that the police were not bringing them enough cases in comparison to the reported crimes. In a quick scramble, the minimum staffing levels for the city were.. uh.. re-calibrated for the "population" of the city. This cut back most sections by at least 2 officers a 24-hour period.

For PD purposes - Southeast runs from the tracks south, 581/220 east, and south to the gravel pits. Yes - those gravel pits. On 220 south of WalMart.

That's Southeast, Garden City, SoRo, the Carilion area, Mill Mountain, Franklin Rd., - well, down to the Blue Ridge - you get the idea.

How many officers per shift do you think are on duty?

5? 7?

For an area that big?

How about 3.

3 per shift.

And now they are going to pull one to work the phones? Not to mention all the times they are stuck in court from 8:30am til' 12p or so...

Who will be watching the streets?

So now, if you think of it this way - you'll be looking at reduced fire service AND reduced police service.

The Harris legacy - a city in flames. A city that could be rolling in the cash, but does not have the common sense enough to turn a nickel into a dime.

It's going to be a wild and wooly two years folks.


Yo Scott said...

it will no doubt be made up by the dozens and dozens of state and county officers on duty all day and all night.

I'm not anti-cop, but this recent notion that there are no cops present seems to be ridiculous. I see them ALL THE TIME everywhere I go. It seems like we have a disproportionately high number of them compared to other areas of virginia with higher crime.

t. bob ross said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
t. bob ross said...

first, more cops = lower crime, less cops = more crime. Second, don't county cops have jurisdictional limits?

Matt said...

I agree with "yo scott". I see police everywhere. Though, they are slow to respond to "troubled" areas more so than affluent areas. Same issue, though less important probably, was how street sweepers were seemingly more prevalent in the same high-response areas - until I complained. I don't live in SE, but I do live in NW, which is another area with undesirables here and there and a bunch of multi-family homes and section 8 (Roanoke seems to cater to this and is fond of the idea of integrating these into somewhat nice and/or stable neighborhoods.) I guess the guaranteed payments are attractive. OK, so I'm off on a tangent. But why is the city cutting back firemen when they are building another fire station on Williamson road - just short of Hershberger?

t. bob ross said...

have you lived in a troubled and an affluent area and called the police for the same reason and timed it? try refuting facts (more police = less crime) with facts. troubled areas tend to have multiple calls at a time, and after all the officers are busy, response time probably goes up. your affluent areas have fewer calls, which allows officers to be available for quicker responses. also, a noise complaint takes less time to respond to than a shooting, so response time for different crimes cannot be generalised into your view of rich people get clean streets and more cops.

Philosofik said...

As much as I miss the Roanoke area, I cannot say I miss Roanoke itself for reasons like this. Taxpayers everywhere generally pay for three things -- schools, services, and roads. We've seen Roanoke's marks for schooling, the roads are passable, I'll admit, but with additional cuts to services, one wonders just what exactly tax money is buying these days.

Anonymous said...

Have no fear, the City is going to dumps hundreds of thousands of dollars into the YMCA which a minority of citizens utilize...

What pray tell is an Enterprise Zone? Another multi-thousand dollar expense?

AND PLEASE SOMEONE TELL ME about these business license fees that are unpaid.

This City is circling the drain. Maybe Bowers will fire Darlene and get a City Manager who can actually manage. They need to get their act together. This is ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

and here i was looking to move back. maybe i'll just keep on going and land in blacksburg instead...

Anonymous said...

I am a city firefighter and would like to share some thoughts on the continual downsizing of the fire department.The citizens of Roanoke need to know this.

To Mason, Trinkle, Harris, Fitzpatrick, Nash and others so unaware yet in a position of influence:
The chief is senior management by assignment. The chief is not a senior fire officer, not hoback, not grigsby. Neither of them have firefighter views or concerns. They were given the job to do whatever Burcham says. Things will never be better for us until Burcham, Grigsby and Hoback leave. Then it will take a long time to clean up the mess they made. (Read the firefighter blog) The chief is an appointed position. You do not have to come up thru the ranks. You need never ride or drive a fire truck; you are not required to have any fireground experience. They were not with us on the street with ice covering our turnout gear, hands and feet numb from the cold; they were not there when we crawled thru the basements or attics with zero visibility and intense heat. They did not pull their lungs out to get the hose to the seat of the fire. They have not gone home with aching body and burning eyes. They never stood in a situation so dangerous that the mind very quickly and quietly thought of family. They were not there to hear the gasps of tortured agony. They did not help dig the remains of a body from the rubble. They weren’t there to hear the cries of the family members at the loss of a loved one. They haven’t seen what I’ve seen nor done what I’ve done.
Yet they pretend to be one of us and speak for us.
They don’t know who I am or what I’m about; and the fact of the matter is, I really don’t care.
I don’t need or want them to know me. But then they risk my safety and the safety of the public.

A chief needs not have loyalty to the citizens or to the firefighters. He must only follow instructions from downtown. The office serves at the pleasure of downtown. Do you really think he speaks for us? Are you that naive? Or are you the same as he?

We didn’t come to council about our poor salaries, our ever decreasing benefits or the way we are mismanaged and mistreated. Our department is full of problems and the sad thing is that they come from the top down. Most of our people question why they stay here considering the way we are treated, even the young people. Look how many are leaving.

We came to you about SAFETY, and you could not see and were led. We will face even more cuts soon.
Where will you stand?

We write anonymously because of the retaliation, but if you squint your eyes in the twilight you will see me.
Blue ghost

FireFleitz said...

This comment is for Matt. They want you to think that they are building MORE firehouses. Proof of that is in Darlene's letter to Citizens who were complaining about getting rid of firefighters. HOWEVER, the truth is that they are actually closing firehouses.

I know it is hard to understand, but you said it yourself. You state that they are building a new firehouse on Williamson Road. That is true, there is a new firehouse being built there. HOWEVER, it is replacing a current station. In fact they are simply moving one station with firefighters to a new building.

They will build a new one in northwest as well. HOWEVER, they are combining two stations into a new building and getting rid of an engine. I cannot make this stuff up. They want you to believe that they are building new ones as in ADDITIONAL ones, but the truth is that they are only building new buildings...AND taking an Engine Company out of service.