A heated meeting in Torrington was held on Wednesday as the city talked about staffing for the police department.
The debate had to do with filling the deputy chief position or keeping officers on the street.
A contentious issue, but one that boils down to the budget.
Dozens of police officers lined the Torrington city council chambers as a show of unity.
“Torrington needs the police on the streets. There's no question about it,” said Mike Simon, a Torrington business owner.
Members of the community and the police department want the chief to fill an open officer position and replace two officers who may retire in the coming year.
“With the budget concerns of Torrington, the replacement of the two retiring officers and the open position will not be filled because the chief would rather have a deputy chief,” Simon said.
While the chief doesn't want to lose officers on the street, he believes they need a deputy chief.
“I agree 100 percent with them but we do need a deputy chief also,” said Chief Michael Maniago of the Torrington Police Department.
Maniago and several commissioners favor filling the vacant deputy chief position.
“I do not believe the police department, as a business because that's what it is, can function with one manager and 80 employees under that manager,” said Glenn McLeod of the Torrington Board of Public Safety.
Other commissioners argue the opposite.
“We have two captains, lieutenants, and sergeants that can run the daily operations. To eliminate that deputy chief position, it's not going to hurt public safety,” said Doug Benedetto of the Torrington Board of Public Safety.
The debate is all brought on by budget constraints that call for the police department to cut $350 thousand.
“I have real concerns. There's violence, drugs and the only that's going to stop that is more police on the streets rather than in the office,” Simon said.
The commissioners tabled the budget discussion tonight and will continue it at a meeting later this month.
They also decided to restart the hiring process to fill the deputy chief position after some questions about how the process was carried out.
Funding for that position could still be cut as part of the budget process.
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