Gulfport public safety workers not happy about cutbacks - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Gulfport public safety workers not happy about cutbacks

By Doug Walker – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Public safety workers came by the dozens to Gulfport City Hall Monday morning to sit down with the mayor. Citizen protection was at the top of the agenda, according to Lt. Chris Henderson with the Gulfport Fire Department.   

"We came together today to address public safety, something that is near and dear to all of us here," Henderson said.  "And the mayor sat down and listened to our concerns and together with him and the administration, hopefully we can come to a solution that will satisfy all parties." 

Mayor George Schloegel seemed to agree.  

"What we're going to do is try and solve a problem," Mayor Schloegel said. "And we're going to try and take good knowledge and experience and dedication of the people that were in that room and other city employees to make the best happen for our town." 

Overtime cutbacks in the fire department, and a reduction in police officer hours are also at the top of the list. 

The Gulfport firefighters and police officers we talked to expressed concern that maybe the mayor doesn't appreciate exactly what they do for the city.  They also feel that budget cuts could lead to public safety risks such as increased crime and less fire protection.

That's the opinion of Lt. Jake Smith with the police department. 

"The mayor told us in his state of the city address that we're doing a good job in reducing crime over the past two years," Smith said. "And if we reduce manhours that we're working, 26 or 27 thousand hours, can we still produce those reductions?"

The answer from the mayor offers some promise.  

"I hope that we can minimize that effect," Schloegel said. "We don't want our crime statistics to rise, we want them to continue to go down." 

Firemen and police officers all expressed appreciation to the mayor for agreeing to meet with them, but also hope they are not spinning their wheels when it comes to getting relief from their budget concerns.

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