(KMOV) – The East St. Louis City Council delayed a vote yesterday that would have decided if the city will lay off 19 police officers.
Mayor Alvin Parks offered giving up his $50,000 per year salary and benefits to save the job of one police officer. Mayor Parks says East St. Louis needs more officers on the street, not fewer.
St. Clair County and East St. Louis law enforcement agencies both face large-scale reductions in less than a month.
Thirteen deputies in St. Clair County were given pink slips and will be out of a job starting January 15, 2011.
In a unanimous vote, the deputies rejected the county’s offer of a one percent pay increase, which would have saved every job.
The County says every county employee is getting a one percent raise, and that it would be unfair to give deputies more. Now the department is making plans to do without 13 road patrol officers.
St. Clair will cut the D.A.R.E. program and will also get rid of the popular “exterminator” – a crime deterrent in risky areas.
The department says it will no longer respond to property crimes. If residents’ homes are broken into or their cars were burglarized, they’ll have to download a report and mail it in.
The 19 police officers in East St. Louis could be out of a job on the first of the year if the council votes for the layoffs.
On Friday, the East St. Louis city council was going to vote on a proposal to lay off 26 city employees while trying to balance the budget. The mayor says the city is working on ways to retain officers and already making plans to bring them back if they lose their jobs.
East St. Louis plans to apply for several federal grants that would pay for additional officers. Those officers who threatened with layoffs received notice in their paychecks on Tuesday.
The city is working with a $22 million budget.
The new vote is set for next week.
Just a few years ago, East St. Louis employed 70 officers. The number would sink to 43 if the layoffs are approved.
The city has already worked 25 homicides in 2010, and the mayor says his top concern is citizens’ safety. This means police will rely more heavily on citizen calls than on just patrols.
In the past, the department has relied on backup for big cases from the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department. However, that might end as St. Clair is about to lay off 13 deputies.