Madison Police Chief Noble Wray is asking the Common Council to help find more funding to hire eight new police officers.
In his 2011 operating budget, Mayor Dave Cieslewicz called for "hard choices and greater efficiency." Though noting he's added 56 new officers since being in office, Cieslewicz denied the police department's request for 20 new officers in his draft budget, in part because the city didn't get any funding from the Community Oriented Policing Services branch of the US Department of Justice. The police department accounts for $59.6 million of the mayor's $244.9 million proposed budget.
Wray sent a memo (PDF) to Common Council this morning and will speak at tonight's Board of Estimates meeting (PDF), outlining a plan to add the positions. In his memo, Wray outlines four measures that to free up funding, including reallocating a $129,000 Justice Assistance Grant, delaying detective promotions, reducing the pre-service academy budget by about $30,000 and using an extra $10,000 in recent federal aid.
Combined, these measures would provide the department about $174,000. If combined with another $287,000 from the general fund, it would allow for the hiring for eight officers.
"Although I share your concern in regard to the current economic situation, it is important that the department continue to add staff incrementally in order to avoid the need for significant staff increases in the future," Wray writes the council, adding that a staffing study recommended the addition of 34 officers. "Each year that we delay adding positions will result in greater needs for future budgets."
Ald. Mark Clear, Common Council president, says he doesn't know whether council will be receptive to the request. "We'll know more this evening. He'll make his case for it and we'll see what happens," Clear says. "I'm not hearing [alders] say, 'We've got to do more about getting some police officers.'"