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The Wall Street Journal has this story today that takes a look at how the plummeting economy is hitting police and other public safety departments in cities in California.

The story looks closely at the city of Vallejo, which declared bankruptcy in May. Since then, the story states, 40 percent of the city’s police officers have either quit or notified the city of their intention to quit. From the story:

Vallejo’s Police Department is down to about 120 from 150 police officers in January, and it expects an additional 30 or more to exit by year end. The city has cut law-enforcement community services and youth-service programs.

Though it doesn’t mention San Diego, the story should be interesting to city residents in the light of Mayor Jerry Sanders’ recent speech, in which he stated that the city is $43 million in the hole and counting.

Sanders has asked all city departments to present him with proposals of how they would potentially cut 10 percent of their budget. With public safety representing a huge chunk of the city’s general fund spending, it will be interesting to see if the mayor can avoid cutting police and fire department budgets.

We’ve already seen some signs of what potential police budget cuts could mean for the city. A couple of weeks ago I wrote this story, which looked at the possibility that the SDPD could freeze its hiring efforts in the wake of the fiscal crisis.

It seems San Diego’s not alone. From the Journal story:

Stockton, Calif., rocked by housing foreclosures, also is scrutinizing budgets for police and fire. Mark Moses, the city’s chief financial officer, said “we will not be able to manage with just cuts to libraries and parks.” In Santa Rosa, assistant city manager Michael Frank said the city is cutting about 20 police officers and will also cut some firefighting services.

In Sacramento, Police Chief Rick Braziel is grappling with how to cut 8% from the city’s $130 million police budget.

“Vallejo is not unique,” said Mr. Levinson.

WILL CARLESS

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