Syr Police Stretched to Limit Exposed in City Budget Hearing

Apr 26, 2017

Police Chief Frank Fowler (right) explains to councilors (l-r) Helen Hudson, Jean Kessner and Van Robinson needs for the department.
Credit Jessica Gorman/WAER News

Syracuse police officers are struggling to keep up with the number of calls coming in...and the department is looking for help from the city budget.  Councilors continued hearings on aspects of the proposed budget from Mayor Stephanie Miner.

Chief Frank Fowler pointed out to Common Councilors the workload is putting a strain on staff.

“The men and women of the Syracuse Police Department continue to work at a pace that I’ve never witnessed before.  We have a phenomenal group of young men and women that’s going out there each and every day and doing their share and then some.  Considering the volume of calls that we responded to versus the number of officers we had, you can just imagine what the workload is.” 

Syr Budget Public Hearing May 3, 6:00 p.m. @ City Hall

The department is working with 434 officers that includes 29 still in the police academy.  Last year’s budget called for 450 officers – to which Fowler would like to return.  He might get some help from the council.  Joe Nicoletti, who’s also running for Mayor, would like to find a way to fund more police on the streets

“I would hope that before we move on the budget, we can figure out a way to give you more support.  We live in a community that there is a frustration; there is a high rate of poverty.  And as good as you can do, working 24/7 yourself, and the men and women that you have, I think you need more help.”

Common Councilors continue budget talks on proposal that includes an $18 Million deficit
Credit Jessica Gorman/WAER News

Fowler says the department is holding steady on replacing cars and other equipment.  He is trying to use technology such as crime cameras to make up for bare-bones staffing.  Fowler is asking for funds to replace some of the older crime cameras in the city. 

“If you leave a camera there that’s not functioning, you have the public’s expectation.  They see the flashing blue light; they know what that means.  If something happens that should likely be captured by the camera and it is not, then we get yelled and screamed at quite a bit.  And it’s kind of unfair to the public to put something up there like that (unworking camera).”

Meanwhile the fire department has a different sort of personnel issue… Chief Paul Linnertz’ ranks have increased in recent years, but he’s facing retirements.  He says the current proposed budget will leave the department in “great shape”

Syr Fire Chief Paul Linnertz after a budget presentation to Common Councilors.
Credit Jessica Gorman/WAER News

“The Fire Department’s budget is $33 Million, and $30 Million of that is staffing.  The rest goes into the purchase of major apparatus and the equipment and things necessary for day-to-day operation of the fire stations, gas, electric and that kind of stuff.”

A public hearing on the budget is May Third at 6:00 p.m. in City Hall.