Magazine article Newsweek

Homeland Insecurity: Budget Woes Force States to Pull Cops off the Street

Magazine article Newsweek

Homeland Insecurity: Budget Woes Force States to Pull Cops off the Street

Article excerpt

Byline: Nadine Joseph and Rebecca Sinderbrand

Remote and tranquil, the little Oregon town of Enterprise is an idyllic place to escape the hassles of life. Residents are just hoping outlaws don't feel the same way. With severe cuts in funding for Oregon state troopers, Enterprise now has no police protection for four hours a night. "Hopefully," says Wes Kilgore, the town police chief, a bit warily, "the bad guys won't figure out when nobody's on duty."

A budget crisis in Oregon has forced the state police to abandon 24-hour patrols. Some rural highways in the state won't be covered at all. Even before the recent cuts--the layoffs of 129 officers out of a force of 349--state-patrol ranks were down to their lowest level in four decades. The police-staffing woes in Oregon mirror law-enforcement-personnel problems across the United States. The result of a sour economy, the cuts are being imposed even as local departments are being asked to muscle up for antiterror security. Further worsening the crisis: some cops are military reservists now being called to active duty. At one point, the police and fire departments in Niagara Falls, N.Y., were without squad chiefs--both had been called to active duty.

One in four police departments nationally are now facing cuts--a "real threat to hometown America," says John DeStefano Jr., the president of the National League of Cities and mayor of New Haven, Conn. Besides coping with shrinking tax receipts, cities have spent about $3 billion on antiterror efforts since 9-11, much of it for overtime pay for police officers working at airports, DeStefano said. …

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