More police cuts on the way

City Council to decide how many May 10
By: Stephanie Dumm News Messenger Reporter
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City Council will soon have to decide how many police officers to cut as the council continues to balance Lincoln’s budget. City Manager Jim Estep said Monday that the May 10 City Council meeting will cover “budget reductions necessary to achieve a balanced budget.” “We are trying to find out how many layoffs are needed to truly balance the budget,” Estep said. City staff will present City Council with the number of layoffs needed in both police and fire to achieve a balanced budget. “We will ask the council how much in reserves they would want to use. They will decide how much of the reserves they want to use to add an officer back,” Estep said. “It is up to the council about how much they want to truly balance the budget. An officer on average is $130,000 with full salary and benefits.” A few community members told The News Messenger this week that 12 police positions could be eliminated. City representatives responded that the number is unknown at this time. The News Messenger asked how many officers’ jobs are on the line, and Estep would not say. “We don’t know the number yet,” Estep said. Police Chief Paul Shelgren also would not say how many police officers could be laid off. “I know we are going to lay off officers and dispatchers. No matter what we do, we’ll have to use reserves,” Shelgren said. “I just don’t know a number. We are still putting numbers together. It rests on what level of reserves the City Council chooses to use.” On Saturday night, Lincoln Police made at least two DUI arrests, one of which resulted in a trip to the hospital. The News Messenger reporter rode with Lincoln Police Officer Matt Williamson from 9 p.m. that night to 2:30 a.m. Sunday and witnessed Joshua Jones’ DUI arrest after he reportedly crashed into a tree. Officer Brett Schneider recorded the field sobriety test and Sgt. Jeff Morse searched the crash scene while Williamson transported the arrestee to the hospital and then the Placer County Jail. Williamson said the process will become slower if the department loses more officers. Six officers worked Saturday night, five officers and one sergeant, including Williamson. “The other officers pick up the slack when one is unavailable, like right now, I’m not in the city,” Williamson said while at Sutter Roseville Medical Center. Having six officers on staff sped up the process during and after Jones’ arrest, according to Williamson. “Brett (Schneider) towed the vehicle and photographed it, and the sergeant went to locate the scene and found the accident scene,” Williamson said. “There were three calls while doing that and three officers were available. If there were (only) three of us, I’m left to handle the scene myself, which would have expanded exponentially my time on the scene.” What appeared to be a man fixing his car on Eighth Street shortly after 9:30 p.m. resulted in the arrest of Jones, 34, of Lincoln. A second drive past Jones showed the man in the same car with the interior lights on, which prompted Williamson to check the black Mercury’s license plate. The plate had an expired car registration. Returning to the car’s original spot, Williamson saw that Jones was gone. Jones was spotted up the street, driving toward East Avenue with the car lights off. After patting Jones down and determining the man had taken prescription medication, Williamson performed a field sobriety test. Jones told Williamson that he sideswiped a tree with his car earlier that night. Since Jones was involved in a vehicle accident, he needed to be checked out by medical staff to “get medically clear for incarceration,” according to Williamson. After leaving the hospital at midnight, Jones was booked into the Placer County Jail at 1:42 a.m. According to the Lincoln Police Department’s Weekly Crime Summary, Jones’ charges are driving under the influence, probation violation and hit-and-run property damage. The News Messenger’s ride along ended at 2:30 a.m. Sunday with the report of a man pushing a cart down the middle of Nicolaus Road near Aviation Boulevard. The unidentified man, pushing a shopping cart, was almost hit by a car driving down Nicolaus Road. When questioned by police, the homeless man reported that he wanted to get water from the Tower Mart down the road. He was released after being told to stay to the side of the road, instead of walking down the middle.