4 Watertown police officers will be laid off Wednesday

WWNY 4 Watertown police officers will be laid off Wednesday

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - The Watertown Police Department is about to take a hit to its roster. Not only are layoffs going into effect, but new officers looking to join the force will not be able to.

On Wednesday, 4 city police officers will not go into work. The city made the decision to lay off the officers due to budget constraints.

"Any time you have to lay off people it's difficult, for the people who are being laid off of course, and then the departments have to make adjustments to do the same amount of work with fewer people," said Watertown City Manager Kenneth Mix.

According to Mix, there will be even fewer. The city just trained 4 police recruits, but will keep only one of them once a uniformed officer retires this summer.

How does the city decide who stays and who goes?

"It actually comes down to, I believe, Social Security numbers. There's really a civil service law that says it's basically random," said Mix.

The money to train police officers comes out of city taxpayers' pockets, but Mix says it's not a substantial cost due to training in-house.

"We did want to get all the recruits through the training so it wouldn't be a complete waste," he said.

That way the city can call on the others to come back if there's an opening. Mayor Jeff Smith says he'd like to see that happen.

"We didn't hire 4 officers just because we wanted them. It's because we needed them so it puts more of a strain on the rest of the department," he said.

Right now the city of Watertown employs 66 police officers. Mix says having fewer of them isn't ideal, but that's what needs to happen to make the budget work.

"Four positions is $400,000. It's approaching a half a million dollars," he said.

It's nearly half a million dollars the city can't afford to spend.

The cuts will go into effect July 1.

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