Amid award moment, jeopardized city police staffing gets spotlight

Even as Williamsport policemen were being given awards for bravery at City Council’s meeting last week, they were taking the moment to push hard against Mayor Gabriel Campana’s proposed cuts in the police department as part of the 2019 budget proposal.

The mayor said he’s not planning such cuts, but his denial came just hours after he spoke of the difficult decision to cut eight city workers, including police, in the proposed plan.

We suspect upcoming budget deliberations will reveal exactly what the personnel cuts entail.

But we would suggest police protection cuts should be a last resort to the city’s budget, deficit and tax woes.

After all, public safety is probably the top service taxpayers are paying for when they write out that large check to pay their city taxes, which are high by almost any standard.

It’s worth noting the officers were honored for their courage in a shoot-out and car chase overnight about a year ago.

At the time of the night of violence, there were six officers and two supervisors on duty.

That’s all.

As much as the city needs to find ways to operate more cheaply and efficiently, it’s a bit hard to imagine an overnight police shift numbering fewer personnel than were on duty that night.

Voters supported the existing strong mayor-council form of government at the polls in November.

At its best, this form of government is supposed to thrive on proposals and ideas from the mayor that are polished and improved or rejected with better alternatives by City Council.

That is precisely what has to happen with the 2019 city budget and, perhaps most crucially, with the police portion of the spending and tax plan.