Budget impasse could spell doom

PHILADELPHIA - September 16, 2009 Observers say Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey was visibly anguished in having to tell rank and file members of his department that several hundred police officers may be getting pink slips as early as this Friday.

Several hundred police officers left the Police Academy late today after Commissioner Ramsey reported the grim news. If the budget impasse in Harrisburg is not resolved by Thursday, pink slips may be going out on Friday to 739 sworn police officers and 43 civilians.

"And you have to remember, I'm already down 200 from where I was a year ago, so we're talking close to 1,000 policemen, and this city cannot lose 1,000 policemen; it makes no sense at all," Ramsey said.

Police union boss John McNesby says if that happens, then Philadelphia may soon earn a new name due to a potential increase in crime:

"You might as well hang up a sign saying this is Tombstone, Arizona," McNesby said.

McNesby says among the officers who stand to get a pink slip is hero cop Richard Decoatsworth who just last night was involved in his third shooting in his short 2 year career. As a rookie cop, he lost a part of his face to a shotgun blast fired by a violent suspect. In February, he was invited to sit next to Michelle Obama during the President's economic address to Congress.

"And you're going to thank him by patting him on the back and handing him a pink slip on Friday? It's ridiculous, it's outrageous, the community should be up in arms; don't call the police, call the Mayor's office," McNesby said.

Indeed, McNesby is blaming the mayor, for what he calls scare tactics. He's convinced that the people in Harrisburg are trying to work out this budget impasse within 48 hours.

"I believe these officers will be fine, I believe their families will be fine and if not, we're going to go into our plan C...that'll be coming out, stay tuned," McNesby said.

Late tonight, Mayor Michael Nutter responded to McNesby's claim of scare tactics.

"These are not tactics, this is the reality, unfortunately, of where we find ourselves," Nutter said. "The public needs to stay focused and I ask my good friend John to stay focused on the issue at hand which is in Harrisburg where I'll be tomorrow trying to get a bill passed."

The Mayor is referring to House bill 1828 which McNesby has also been lobbying for in Harrisburg.

By the way, officials say if an officer does receive a pink slip, it does not automatically mean he or she will be laid off and further, the layoff would not take effect until October 2.

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