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Proposed cuts to Peoria Police Department could mean reduction in officers

PEORIA, Ill. - On the heels of the city's approval of a police union contract with a more than 2% raise for officers, it's also asking its biggest department to cut its budget.

The city asked all departments to come up with ways to cut 5-10% of their budgets.

For a service like the Peoria Police Department, Peoria Police Chief Jerry Mitchell says there is only so much to cut before he has to start reducing the force.

"Either 5 or 10% will impact services." Chief Mitchell explains.

Deciding where to cut the police department's budget is not easy for Chief Mitchell. A 5% cut would mean a reduction in traffic enforcement, the Target Offender Unit, investigations and officers.

"Approximately 20 officers would be cut from the roster if you will at 5%." Chief Mitchell says. 

At 10% that number would at least double.

"A 10% reduction across the board, which would be a very big cut, would be between 40 and 45 officers, in addition to other services." Chief Mitchell explains.

The Peoria Police Department is authorized to have 229 officers, although it is already down 13.

"I don't recall a time where you take away 45 officers from what we currently have. That's going to put you at numbers I know we've never seen." Chief Mitchell says.

Chief Mitchell says losing that many officers would mean more than just turning in the badge.

"If it did happen, then the, essentially, the only service we would provide is the basic service to when you call us." Chief Mitchell says.

Although painful to propose, Chief Mitchell is hopeful these cuts won't have to happen. Even if they do, Chief Mitchell says the Peoria Police will still be there to help when you call.

"That's the core service that we have to deliver and that will always be there. Whether 5%, 10%, or anything in between, when they pick up the phone, we're going to come." Chief Mitchell explains.

Chief Mitchell says the department will not do any mass hiring to fill its open officer positions before it has clarification from the city on how to proceed.

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