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EARNED BENEFIT: Thomas Nee, president of the Boston Police Patrolman's Association, spoke in favor of police details at a public hearing called by City Councilor Sam Yoon.

By Jessica Van Sack
Friday, November 14, 2008

Under pressure to control spending and already over-budget, the Hub's top cop is eyeing cutbacks to the bicycle unit, courthouse time and other measures to stave off a financial meltdown.
"We're reviewing everything we do," said Boston police Commissioner Edward Davis. "We understand there's a fiscal crisis and we have to do everything we can to maintain the level of services the citizens of Boston expect from us."
Since the fiscal year began July 1, the department has already eaten through $17.4 million, more than half of its $30.2 million budget. Davis says even after reeling in spending, the department will still exceed projections.
Davis said he plans to redeploy officers more efficiently, shifting light-duty patrol officers to desk jobs and having higher-ups walk the beat when they can.
Certain cost-saving measures have already been taken, including slashing the number of take-home vehicles.
BPD spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll said that while overtime usually increases during the summer, "the winter months present an opportunity to bring the OT down because there are typicaly less violent incidents."
Sources said detectives have been told they can no longer complete administrative paperwork or conduct nonessential duties like witness arrays on overtime. In cases of nonviolent crimes, if a development arises and the investigating officers aren't on duty, the case will go to someone who is on duty - and potentially unfamiliar with it - sources said.
To soften the blow of overtime cuts, Davis said he's planning to diversify the starting times of shifts.
Davis said he's also considering dispersing some of the 12-member bicycle unit, which is deployed to hot spots.
"It's a great unit," said Emmett Folgert, head of the Dorchester Youth Collaborative. "People really know them and respect them."
Thomas Nee, president of the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association, said he is monitoring all changes to deployment.
"We will not risk our members' or the public's safety," he said.
Murders, shootings, larcenies and other major crimes are down 10 percent over the previous year, according to Boston police intelligence figures. And while some worry that cutbacks threaten the progress made, Davis noted he is still planning to increase staffing to 2,235 sworn personnel next spring, marking a 75-man increase in two years.

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