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Police to lose 8 positions

By: Brandon Darnell, News Messenger Reporter
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The Lincoln Police Department will lose eight positions to layoffs, Police Chief Brian Vizzusi said Monday. One sergeant, one corporal, three officers, one dispatcher, a records clerk and a community-services officer are casualties of the city’s $1 million General Fund shortfall. The hit would have been greater, according to a list of positions at risk released at the Jan. 13 City Council meeting, but the Police Department’s staff tried to save as many as they could. “They decided to forego all raises and they agreed to an additional 5-percent pay cut,” Vizzusi said. Of the officers let go, all but one are currently in the testing and hiring process at other agencies, both within driving distance and farther off, Vizzusi said. “I helped as many people as I could,” Vizzusi added. “They’re in different stages of the hiring process. It looks good.” Despite fears that some major services would be cut, including the entire traffic division and the youth services officer – without whom the Youth Center would likely cease to function – the pay cut taken by the Police Department enabled those services to remain. “So far, we’ve restructured some of our scheduling to allow the traffic unit to continue,” Vizzusi said, adding that two of the three traffic personnel will stay in the traffic division. “Even though there’s some discouragement,” Vizzusi said, “we’re still looking ahead to the future and trying to let our hopes shape the future, not our discouragements.” While the layoffs are a step few wanted to see happen, there is the possibility for some good to come out of the current situation. “The great things in life all start in the valleys, not up on the mountaintops,” Vizzusi said. “We’re going to forge ahead, do our jobs and keep the city safe.” Residents had mixed reactions Monday to the news of police layoffs. “I think they’ve got too many anyway,” said Lincoln resident John Koons. “There’s too many on duty at one time.” Lincoln resident Julie Moore said her concerns lie with response times. “I’d be more concerned about the dispatcher than anything else,” Moore said. “We need experts on the phones to make sure the legitimate calls all get responded to.” Moore added that she appreciates the police taking a pay cut: “It’s honorable of them to do that to keep us safe.” Lincoln resident Cheri Chiaratti said that without the Police and Fire Departments, Lincoln wouldn’t survive. “It’s sad,” Chiaratti said. “The economy is bad. I guess it has to be done. You hate to see anyone lose their job these days.” Brandon Darnell can be reached by e-mail at brandond@goldcountrymedia.com.