The Denver Police Department hopes to save $600,000 a year by replacing some jobs that are currently held by officers, with civilians, according to a report by the Denver Post.
About 30 jobs would be freed up for civilians within the next couple of weeks while police officers would likely go back to patrol assignments, though the plan has seen some initial push back from the police union which has argued that some of those jobs require police experience.
Denver has already lost more than 60 officers due to budget constraints since Police Chief Robert White was sworn in about a year ago.
Back in February, Chief White announced he would be shaking up the structure of the department and putting more police officers back onto the streets, but budget cuts were always a concern.
When White was the police chief in Louisville, Ky., he says that almost 80 percent of his officers were working the streets, in a 9News report. As of last February, only about 48 percent of DPD's force were on the streets and White's goal is to get to about 70 percent.
According to reports by the Philadelphia Inquirer, the move from police officers to civilians has become a bigger trend -- though not a new one -- in some cities that are trying to respond to budgetary contraints.
From the Police Chief, the official publication of the International Association of Chiefs of Police:
Sustaining operations in police agencies has become an art during complicated economic circumstances. Personnel, equipment, special services, and other valid expenditures persistently challenge administrators. Dissolving a police department is not a new concept and certainly is not specific to the United States. In December 2011, the Veracruz Police Department in Mexico disbanded, resulting in the laying off of more than 800 sworn officers and 300 civilian personnel.1 In Somerset County, New Jersey, the results of a yearlong study report made public in December 2010 suggest a methodology to combine 19 municipal police departments. Still other police departments have been subjected to cost-cutting methods by eliminating specialty units such as bike patrols, foot patrols, special weapons and tactics, marine units, and mounted horse units. Regardless of one’s personal philosophies relating to the fusing of services, it is important to endorse and preserve dialogue among professionals while providing enhancements for sustaining public safety. Similar to the mergers and acquisitions that exist in the corporate world, there is an appreciated need for restructuring, finance, forecasting, strategies, and consolidation.
In Camden, New Jersey, civilian employees largely became police aides and were projected to save the county around $6.4 million annually, because they cost less than officers and were not eligible for the state's police and fire pension system.
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