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October 25, 2014

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Metro Police budget of $489 million means 188 fewer officers

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Steve Marcus

Sheriff Doug Gillespie speaks on the Metro Police budget during a county commission meeting at the Clark County Government Center Tuesday, April 16, 2013.

Gillespie Speaks About Metro Budget

Sheriff Doug Gillespie speaks on the Metro Police budget during a county commission meeting at the Clark County Government Center Tuesday, April 16, 2013. Launch slideshow »

Metro Police will have to make do with less after the Fiscal Affairs Committee approved a budget Monday that is $13 million less than Sheriff Doug Gillespie requested.

The issue: The Fiscal Affairs Committee, which oversees Metro’s budget, weighed two proposals — one for $502 million that was backed by Gillespie and another for $489 million that was backed by local government officials.

The vote: The committee unanimously approved the $489 million budget.

What it means: Metro Police will have 188 fewer officers next year and could face even deeper losses in the future.

Gillespie said the $489 million budget is the “bare minimum” his department needs to provide the level of service the community expects. This year’s budget is $515 million.

Although he pushed for an additional $13 million in funding — which equates to about 71 officer positions and 50 civilian positions — Gillespie said he respected the committee’s decision.

“This is the amount of money we have to run the department. We can’t fall back on ‘Well, we didn’t get what we wanted,’” he said. “We’re going to work very, very hard to make it work.”

Gillespie said the department has lost about 17 percent of its commissioned officers since the recession began, which has led to an increase in crime and a decrease in morale among officers.

This year’s round of cuts will not result in layoffs, Gillespie said.

Instead, hundreds of positions vacated in the past year through retirement and other departures will be eliminated.

Members of the Fiscal Affairs Committee, which includes representatives from Clark County and Las Vegas, two of Metro’s primary funding sources, said that although they’d like to increase Metro’s budget, the money is not available.

“I hate the fact that we’re here...I would love to sit here and provide you with all that you need,” Las Vegas city councilman Ricki Barlow said. “I had to support what I felt was necessary in order to keep all levels of the city government and Metro whole.”

The $489 million budget approved Monday includes a $198 million contribution from Clark County — an $8 million increase from last year — and a $119 million contribution from Las Vegas — a $5 million increase. The remaining funding comes from property taxes and other self-generated revenues from the department.

To close this year’s budget gap, Metro was forced to draw on $30 million in reserve funding it saved by keeping hundreds of officer positions vacant last year.

Metro Chief Financial Officer Karen Keller said the $30 million was a one-time funding solution and won’t be available again next year, meaning more tough decisions for elected officials.

“We have to prioritize. Nothing’s going to change in the next few years from a financial resource standpoint. We are going to be short money,” Clark County Commissioner Larry Brown said. “We have to make sure public safety, in this case Metro, has the priority for funding. What that means is other county programs and services are going to be suspended or eliminated. It’s a tough political decision, but we have to do that. There’s no question.”

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  1. With any luck this will mean a lower chance that innocent people will be shot by Metro since there might be fewer cops to shoot them.

    For that matter, if CCSD would do its job correctly we wouldn't need as many cops in the first place.

  2. Take a close look at the admin side of Metro. A lot of payroll could be cut there and used for real policing. Less admin, more officers on the street. It's that simple.

  3. Oh no...what about all the cell phone sting operations, and the child safety seat check points? How will we survive?

    http://transparentnevada.com/salaries/20...

  4. So what is the story, funding increases from both the city and the county for next year, but you say there will be less officer positions. Who is writing this story the LV Sun or Metro PR machine?

  5. boftx.

    Interesting that you would blame CCSD for not doing what parents should be doing.

    I was raised to believe it was the parents job to teach us right from wrong, not the schools.

    No one wants to take credit for their own failures these days.

  6. ALL government employee compensation packages should be reduced by at least 10%--comparable to what working Americans have lost. Not even close to the 100% hit long-term unemployed have lost--the budget funds would go much further with pay cuts.
    Can the Sheriff please explain why the technology, radios, tasers, vehicles, seniority have not reduced the need for officers? Is it that we keep releasing VIOLENT CRIMINALS to commit more crime so law enforcement can do their thing, public defenders have work, the courts are overwhelmed and insisting on more levels of appellate courts, the prisons are crowded with NONVIOLENT offenders while we are not safe on our streets or in our homes?

  7. It's just a matter of time before they go bankrupt. You can't get money from people who have no jobs! It's economics 101.

  8. Great, fewer cops in one of the most violent cities in the country! I wonder how many dead women they're going to find in the desert and in garbage cans next year?

  9. Breakout the transparent Nevada links!! They dont need to lessen their police force, they need to lessen the salaries of high ranking police officials with a high salary, and tons of benefits, and 'extra' pay.

    Give it a rest Metro, you're budget isn't out of wack your YOUR SALARIES ARE!!!