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Cleveland to Disband Mounted Police Unit

The city's mounted police unit, the second-oldest in the nation, will end its near century-long run because of a $61 million budget deficit.

The unit's 13 horses, often seen patrolling crowds, will be given away to horse farms while the seven officers who ride them will be assigned
to patrol cars or other duties.

Cleveland's Mounted Unit, once 100 horses strong, was established in 1905 and is the oldest continuing mounted police unit in the nation. Only New York's unit is older, but it had been disbanded for a period.

Sgt. Donald Strother, whose longtime service with the unit fulfilled a boyhood dream, fought back tears Monday.

"No more riding boots and breeches," he said. "It's back to straight legs and oxfords."

Throughout the 20th century, Cleveland's Mounted Unit rode in Inaugural Day parades in Washington, D.C., and collected blue ribbons in national riding competitions.

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They're doing that because of this...

263 police officers, 150 firefighters and 22-25 EMS workers laid off in Cleveland

Campbell announces $61 million in cuts, 100s of layoffs From WKYC-TV 3 reports November 24, 2003

In a 45-minute address at City Council this afternoon, Mayor Jane Campbell announced a $61 million cut in the city's budget, including the layoff of 263 police officers.

The City of Cleveland will do everything in its power to "live within its means" in 2004. Campbell went on to say that next year's budget will "maintain city services."

Those services will be maintained, she contends, with layoffs of over 660 police, fire and EMS workers.

Mayor Campbell says police dispatch, SWAT and bomb squad officers will remain the same, while officers dedicated to 911 response will increase. The new focus on 911 calls should increase the percentage of officers responding to calls from 44 to 55. EMS will maintain 18 on-duty vehicles during the day, and 16 at night.

There will be a drastic decrease in traffic controllers.

The city expects revenues of $464 million next year. Without cuts, planned budget increases would put the final amount spent at $525 million -- enough, Campbell says, to put the city into fiscal emergency and turn control of the city over to the state.

Breakdown of layoffs

According to Mayor Campbell, there will be a total of 663 layoffs, the majority of them among the safety forces: 263 police officers, 150 firefighters and 22-25 EMS workers. As far as city services, trash removal, snow plowing, street sweeping and street repair will be maintained.

The city's 20 recreation centers will continue to be open, though only Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. until 8 p.m. Outdoor pools will have their season reduced to July 4th through October 15th.

City, unions to negotiate

Campbell has informed the various unions involved that the number of layoffs can be reduced if city workers will agree to some concessions.

Reportedly, EMS workers have agreed to certain concessions. The firefighters' union isn't pleased with recent talks involving a 4% pay cut.

Campbell calls the financial crisis the biggest Cleveland has faced since the city went into default in the 70s. Even after the cuts, the number of police officers per capita in the city is the highest in the state.

Tonight's council meeting at City Hall is expected to be packed with city workers upset about losing their jobs.

But council doesn't have to approve Campbell's proposal for her to enact it.
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