Neighborhood Police Officers Still on Chopping Block
By Brenna Angel
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Lexington's urban county council members are getting down to the wire in a passing a budget for the next fiscal year. Plans for spending cuts within the division of police remain a concern.
Lexington Police Chief Ronnie Bastin has twice reported to council members in recent weeks on how the division is handling a proposed 7 percent reduction in funding.
Police plan to cut community service units nearly in half; those affected include the DARE program, mounted patrol, and the Community Law Enforcement Action Response unit, also known as CLEAR.
"We're at a point where we're going to have to transfer people from specialized units back into patrol to make sure we have enough people to take calls for service."
The Centre Parkway, Eastland, Winburn, and Woodhill neighborhoods would lose their CLEAR officers under the plan. Neighborhoods in the areas of UK, Cardinal Valley, Georgetown Street, and North Limestone would keep their officer.
Bastin says he hopes the police department's reorganization for all community services will just be temporary.
"When you take away these 20 people that will be moved July 11, we don't have an abundance of people in specialized support units. It leaves us with 23 people after that, that are in support units."
Vice Mayor Linda Gorton and council member Steve Kay would like to budget nearly $242,000 to keep the CLEAR unit operational in its current eight neighborhoods.
Lexington police also plan to stop providing escorts at local funerals, but the service may be picked up by the Fayette County Sheriff's office.
Urban County Council members will hold a marathon budgeting session Tuesday to get through final recommendations. Lexington's budget is scheduled for ratification on June 23.