Budget cuts will cause 37 East St. Louis city employees to lose their jobs including 19 police officers. Eleven positions in the fire department will also be cut. The layoffs are effective Sunday, August 1st.
The move leaves East St. Louis with just over 40 officers to police a city of around 30,000 residents. Chief Lenzie Stewart declined to give a comment on camera, but said he planned to move officers with desk jobs back onto the streets to patrol.
Sgt. Dennis Butler, president of the union representing the East St. Louis officers, says he was temporarily reassigned to patrol duty from his position in internal affairs earlier this summer. He says the move was in response to staffing shortages. He adds that with another round of layoffs, things will only get worse.
East St. Louis Mayor Alvin Parks said the layoffs comes after negotiations over a furlough package failed. Workers would have been asked to take two unpaid days off per pay period. Each pay period is two weeks.
Four public works positions and three city administration positions are also cut.