Guns and Hoses for Falcone

With eight months remaining before the November election, unions representing area police officers, sheriff’s deputies, and firefighters announced their endorsements for Santa Barbara City Councilmember Iya Falcone in her bid to become the city’s next mayor. Perhaps more than any other councilmember, Falcone has fought vigorously on behalf of public safety unions during negotiations with City Hall, and in past elections, these unions have reciprocated in kind. Running against Falcone is fellow Councilmember Helene Schneider and perhaps Chamber of Commerce executive Steve Cushman. Both Schneider and Cushman say they, too, support public safety but that the interests of police officers and firefighters must be balanced against those of City Hall as a whole. With the city projecting a $9-million budget deficit for next year, push will come to shove when budget deliberations begin next month. The Police Department has been asked to take a $1.2-million cut, and the union has been arguing that such a reduction could jeopardize public safety. Falcone said she won’t support any cuts that take the number of patrol officers below 140. Currently, there are 137 officers, with three new officers on the way. Now on the table are plans to cut five sworn officer positions plus five support staff from the department. Chief Cam Sanchez hopes to reassign officers so that the actual number of cops on the street remains the same.

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