East St. Louis is About to Get More Dangerous

Remember how Oakland was forced to fire 10% of its police force, after they were unable to negotiate salary cutbacks with the police union?

Well now it looks like East St. Louis is about to join in on the action. Except they’ll have to cut almost a third of their cops from the payroll.

East St. Louis Mayor Alvin Parks announced that the city will layoff 37 employees, including 19 of its 62 police officers, 11 firefighters, four public works employees, and three administrators. The layoffs take effect on Sunday.

Parks said the weak economy has robbed the city of badly needed money. For example, revenue from the Casino Queen was $900,000 below budget expectations last year. There are no signs of improvement, Parks said.

“I want our citizens to know we have some of the bravest police officers and firefighters in the country,” Parks said. “But we don’t have the money to pay them. We have to have fiscal responsibility.”

City officials wanted police and fire unions to accept a furlough program that would have required employees to take two unpaid days in each twice monthly pay period. If accepted, emergency responders would have seen a pay cut of about 20 percent for the rest of the year.

Parks said the two sides couldn’t reach an agreement. On Friday, he stared at a standing-room only crowd and told his emergency response chiefs words they didn’t want to hear: “Tell your workers to start packing their things.”

I see two problems here.

First, this insane notion that cops should unionize is indefensible. Unionized workforces are more expensive to employ, which inevitably means that fewer of them get employed in the first place, and then when money needs to be saved,  more of them get fired. This is simple, dumb-fuck economics here. If the employees of a private business wants to unionize, that’s fine. But when tax dollars are at play, unionizations in the public sector does nothing but compromise the level of service provided.

Second, perhaps police power wouldn’t be so strained if they’d give up the futile task of investigating and processing criminals for victimless, non-violent crimes like prostitution or drug charges, and concentrate on the more important bad guys like killers and rapists. Who knows how much money could be saved?

I’m pretty sure I’ve noted this before, but it bears repeating.

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