KPD asks for 40 more officers at Knoxville budget hearings

KPD asks for 40 more officers at Knoxville budget hearings

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"Even the study saying we're under-policed doesn't mean we have an unsafe city, but what it means is that we can use more manpower," said Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch. "Even the study saying we're under-policed doesn't mean we have an unsafe city, but what it means is that we can use more manpower," said Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch.

By MIKE KRAFCIK
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - It's Day One of Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero's budget hearings, as each department submits its funding requests for the coming year.  

Last year's budget came in at $180.5 million.  

On Wednesday, Knoxville police and fire departments - making up nearly half of the budget - asked for more money.  

City Finance Director Jim York said property tax collections have remained flat and sales tax collections are less than anticipated.

City leaders reiterated that there won't be a lot of extra money for next year's budget.  

"It is going to be another tight budget year, as it has been for several years," said Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero.  

The biggest request Wednesday came from the Knoxville Police Department, which asked for 40 additional officers at an estimated cost of $4 million. Currently, the department has 416 sworn officers.    

In 2003, the department was authorized for 456 officers, but over the years, the prior administration cut a number of unfilled jobs, said Chief Rausch.  

A recent University of California-Berkley study shows Knoxville as one of the top 30 under-policed cities in the country.    

"Even the study saying we're under-policed doesn't mean we have an unsafe city, but what it means is that we can use more manpower," said Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch.

Rausch says it costs around $100,000 an officer from the hiring process through training and through equipment.  

Along with more manpower, KPD is asking for more money for ammo for the new .45 caliber guns the department switched to in January.  

Rausch says the department needs a one-year pump in getting ammo reserves for the news guns. He says the increased cost will be $450,000. 

Knoxville Fire Department is asking for $520,000 in additional funding.  

The department is asking for $150,000 for turnout gear, as well as $41,000 in increased uniform allowances to allow $500 per firefighter.  

The biggest increase is an additional $305,000 for upgrading the EMT licenses of more than half of KFD's firefighters.

Chief Stan Sharp says 160 firefighters are registered at the EMT Tech level, but Sharp wants firefighters to upgrade to an Advanced EMT training.    

"They are increasing the training requirements for people to go through more training, more ongoing training, but they'll also be able to provide more skills on the scene," said Knoxville Fire Chief Stan Sharp.  

The hearings with the remaining city departments will continue Thursday and wrap up on Friday.

"There will always be more requests than there will be revenues, so I expect my department heads and chiefs to lay out what they think is needed," Rogero said.  

Mayor Rogero will present her finalized budget on April 26, and it goes into effect on July 1. If KPD gets the requested funding, new officers could be trained by late summer or early fall.

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