SHAMOKIN — Starting in 2014 the police force in Shamokin may have to do more with less.
According to the police chief, the city is facing a budget shortfall, and is planning to lay off several officers.
The potential cuts, are being blamed on poorly managed finances in the city.
The city of Shamokin has seen its fair share of crime in the recent past. In fact, police chief Ed Griffiths believes his is the busiest department in the County, responding to more than 6,000 calls so far this year.
Even as Shamokin faces problems with heroin and everyday incidents where officers are needed. The police department faces possible cuts that could leave it with about half the officers it has now.
“It’s going to put the residents in jeopardy, officer safety issue, hope something can be worked out so we can retain these guys,” said Chief Ed Griffiths, Shamokin Police.
City leaders are expected to make the final decision Monday, but with a budget deficit estimated at around $600,000, Chief Griffiths is not sure how the department would handle such substantial cuts.
“Council and mayor are going to have to decide, at this situation right now there’s no way I can provide 24 hour police protection,” said Chief Griffiths.
The chief puts the blame mostly on Steve Bartos, Shamokin’s city clerk, saying he mismanaged city money. Bartos would not return our call for comment.
For people who live and work in the city, the possibility of losing as many as six officers does not exactly come as a comfort.
“What’s happening in town now is a scary proposition, you take six police away from that you’ll have public safety issues all over the place. There are other ways they can save money,” said Tom Kearns of Shamokin.
“I do not agree with the police force cuts, they’re wonderful workers, they help out with everything,” said Carol Raybuck of Irish Valley.
Newswatch 16 did speak with the incoming mayor of Shamokin who said as of right now, four officers are on the chopping block, along with two parking meter clerks, a secretary and a public works employee.
The budget vote is expected to take place Monday.