NEW HAVEN, CT (WFSB) - There will be a $4 million cut to the New Haven Police Department in the approved budget for the fiscal year 2020-2021, the city announced on Monday.
The city also said 48 positions in the department will be eliminated.
While most of the positions are currently vacant, officials said the reduction in the size of the police force will make it more difficult to have enough officers for walking beats.
Supervisor transfers will also be more likely because fewer supervisor positions will exist, the city said.
"I'm concerned about the department. Our officers are, we still have the same numbers of calls for service, crime is up and so our officers are really working around the clock, double shifts to fill the needs that we have out in the districts," said New Haven Police Chief Ontoniel Reyes.
While there were cuts to city departments, there were no cuts to youth and homeless services.
Mayor Justin Elicker released a statement in which he said the cuts have nothing to do with recent protests that called for "defunding police."
This budget is a reflection of tough financial decisions precipitated by the City’s increasing financial obligations. The budget is also a reflection of our values as a City and the challenges we face balancing the tax burden with providing services to residents – many of whom are struggling in our City. While we will always work to identify more efficiencies, these are real decisions that have a real impact on the services we deliver. With the additional $2M of cuts approved by the Board of Alders, we’re eliminating 21 additional positions on top of the 80 positions initially proposed for a total of 101 positions.
These cuts will impact City services. They will: reduce our ability to enforce public space violations, increase the likelihood of reassigning district managers in the New Haven Police Department more frequently because of a reduction in positions, reduce services to seniors, reduce some library hours, slow the repair schedule for Parks and Public Works projects, and further reduce support for the arts.
These are not decisions I want to make. The Board of Alders and I have the same goal to strike the right balance between high taxes and services we provide. We may not land exactly on the same page as to how exactly to strike that balance. Still, we can acknowledge that these are difficult decisions, and there is no easy answer.
To see the full budget, click here.
This decision came during an already tumultuous time for New Haven police.
Demonstrators had called for defunding the the department as part of the nationwide movement protesting police brutality. The tension built after body camera footage of officer Jason Santiago was released showing him punching and kicking a suspect who had already been handcuffed. Santiago was later fired and department leaders pledged to do better.
But through it all, Elicker stood by the police department and said officers played an important role in keeping the community safe. He admitted Monday night that the job became more difficult.
It's not just the police. The city's fire department and the newly formed Department of Parks and Public Works are seeing cuts as well.
"Has to come from either two places. Increased taxes or cuts to our budget and that's what this budget is about and been such a struggle," Elicker said.
The mayor did say despite the shrinking budget, resources for homeless and youth services will not be negatively impacted.