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City budget main reason why potential for more officers may not be added to BPD's ranks

Posted at 12:04 AM, Aug 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-04 14:55:09-04

A local city councilmember has a plan to help improve public safety, but the question is can the city afford to put it into action.

A few months ago current City Councilman Terry Maxwell brought the idea to the city council of adding 100 new officers to BPD’s ranks.

And while he still supports that idea, his competition believes there may be a better way.

“I've been pushing for this. This isn't something new. I got elected talking about public safety,” said Maxwell. “But you know what, it's time to pull out all the stops.”

As Maxwell faces re-election this November, his seat as a city council member is on the line and again is voicing his idea of adding more officers to protect the streets.

“What I had advocated was adding to 20 officers a year for five years that would put us up by 100. Now if we can't afford 100, what can we afford? Can we afford 50? Can we afford 70? What can we afford?” said Maxwell.

Cost is of course the main concern, something bpd sergeant Gary Carruseco says could keep this plan a dream rather than a reality.

“Would we like to have more officers? Of course we would. But we understand budget constraints. We understand that there's been a downturn in the economy, especially oil economy you know which has resulted in a lower sales tax revenue. That directly affects our general fund,” said Carruesco.

But Maxwell isn't the only candidate realizing that the budget has a major impact on public safety.

“I would love 200 officers if the city could afford it. But the reality is, that we're in a tough budget spot with the city at this current moment,” said council member candidate Andrae Gonzales.

Again, saying these budget problems have forced him to think about other ways public safety could be handled.

“We need to look at community oriented policing tactics. Working with some of the more problem neighborhoods or areas,” said Gonzales.

And with more than 400 officers already employed in the city of Bakersfield, it seems that number will remain the same for the foreseeable future.

“Adding that many bodies would be great. It would be a significant benefit to the community,” said Carruesco. “But there again as you said that'd be in a perfect world and unfortunately we don't live in that.”