May 26th, 2009
07:56 PM ET
5 years ago

Ohio cops hailed by Obama could lose jobs

President Obama attended the graduation of 25 police recruits in Columbus, Ohio, in March, touting it as a victory for the federal stimulus package.
President Obama attended the graduation of 25 police recruits in Columbus, Ohio, in March, touting it as a victory for the federal stimulus package.

(CNN)– It was a success story the White House was eager to highlight: earlier this year, President Obama attended the graduation of 25 police recruits in Columbus, Ohio, touting it as a victory for the federal stimulus package.

Without the money, the officers never would have hit the streets. They were to be laid off before their first day of patrol - victims of city budget cuts - until the stimulus money saved the class.

But the White House said the $1.2 million grant only guaranteed their jobs until the end of the year. And facing a growing deficit and a fight to pass an income tax hike, Columbus Police Tuesday announced massive budget cuts that could mean hundreds of layoffs.

Among those who could lose their jobs if voters reject the increase: the 25 new officers who shook the president's hand.

Despite optimistic national headlines the day of the president's trip, city officials warned the influx of federal money wasn't going to be enough to end their financial crisis. President Obama acknowledged in his remarks the money was no silver bullet. “By itself, this recovery plan won't turn our economy around or solve every problem," he said then, and "this police force still faces budget challenges down the road."

The challenges, including a city deficit that could reach $120 million, would mean the loss of 324 officers, more than 15 percent of the force, under a budget unveiled by Chief Walter Distelzweig ."This is devastating," he told reporters Tuesday. "None of us signed up for this kind of task."

Distelzweig said under the 2010 budget plan, the department will focus on priority calls and maintaining public safety. "Policing in this city will change as we know it today," he said. "…[W]e're going to do less with less."

He stressed the cuts are not final, and city voters are being asked to approve an income tax hike in an August ballot. The half-percent increase, if passed, could avoid the firings and furloughs. Distelzweig said the announced cuts are not meant to be a threat to voters. "It's math - whatever money is available," he said.

Columbus is not alone, of course, in its budget crisis. To its south, Cincinnati is looking at job cuts and reduction in services because of a higher-than-expected deficit. Smaller cities like Mansfield, 60 miles to its north, have been forced to lay off up to a third of its officers. CNNMoney.com this week reported 16 states around the nation have raised taxes this year, with proposed increases in 17 others.

Looking at the graduates receiving their diplomas that day, President Obama said, “this economy needs your employment to keep it running."

"I look into their eyes and I see their badges today, and I know that we did the right thing," he told the crowd on March 6. "These jobs and the jobs of so many other police officers and teachers and firefighters all across Ohio will now be saved because of this recovery plan."

The grant did its job, and funded the class for a year. But local budget problems took over. And the 25 officers, a hopeful symbol that day for the White House, may turn into a grimmer example of financial realities still facing communities around the country.


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    Reality trumps Hollywood. Stay tuned for more of this– much more.

    May 26, 2009 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  2. Sniff these...Sniffit

    So, the only jobs that BO has created are going to be lost......

    Too funny!!

    May 26, 2009 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  3. Fitz in Texas

    Hopefully these people won't lose their jobs. But, with Obama running this country I wouldn't be at all surprised if they do. I'm sure, like everything else, Obama will blame it on Bush, again.

    May 26, 2009 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  4. Erik

    It will be on the backs of the voters if the officers lose their jobs, not Obama's.

    May 26, 2009 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  5. Nelle

    Can't somebody put a muzzle on this man? Egads – he's giving not only the Republican Party a very bad name, but as of late – our country as the leading representative of free speech. Muzzle this loser! I like that all his photos show his big mouth wide open. Very flattering!!

    May 26, 2009 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  6. John H

    How many Americans feel that the US government can stimulate and buy jobs for its unemployed? Nice job, politicians, businessmen, and all Americans who continue to buy foreign goods!
    Do you like high unemployment, poor paying service and retail jobs, higher taxes, and greater debt to foreign nations? If so, and you think all is well in the States, then by all means keep buying foreign goods. Oh and by the way, explain to your friends, relatives, and children who cannot find gainful employment that the foreign car sitting in your garage is good for America. What traitors we are to our own country. We are getting exactly what we deserve!!

    May 26, 2009 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  7. fools, fooled by obama

    just blame Bush and your problem is solved osama.

    May 26, 2009 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  8. LOL

    How about cutting everyone's salary 5-7%, then they keep more cops on the beat, keep them busy and trained and althought it would be tight, they likely could still feed their families and pay their mortgages. Raising taxes during a recession is a bad idea and we have to stop the deficit spending. So a small pay cut seem like the right approach.

    May 26, 2009 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  9. America Shrugged

    Who needs police officers when anti-tax folks can vote down a tax increase and lay off every single city worker. Heck, just sneak in a new concealed gun law into an environmental bill and walla, instant police protection. This is the entire platform of the GOP..No public infrastructure or services as it should all be privatized. Think response time is slow now when you need a cop or fireman, just wait until you have to put in bids to have a fireman put out your house fire.

    May 26, 2009 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  10. smiff

    These are mere photo ops that become gospel. Once the tent meeting moves on folks find that they hadnt been healed but taken in. Just another religious experience with AHBAMA!

    May 26, 2009 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  11. No Incumbents 2010

    Obama will star in a reality show where he tells cops...."You're Fired."

    May 26, 2009 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  12. Kelly

    Come on CNN, what a misleading headline. You wrote it as if the President was the cause of him losing his job.

    May 26, 2009 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  13. Sara from Arizona

    Oh well, my husband lost his job too.

    May 26, 2009 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  14. Bernard Werwinski Sr.

    I see from the picture that the greater number shown are white males, I would suspect that Ms.Sotomajor would side with a suit brought against their appointment because of that should such a suit be brought. Sadly,BRW

    May 26, 2009 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  15. No Incumbents 2010

    Happy days are here again, the skies above are clear again...

    Don't stop thinking about tomorrow don't stop it'll soon be here...

    All around the world saying Yes We Can...

    May 27, 2009 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  16. brendan

    this is exactly why the stimulus bill is nonsense

    May 27, 2009 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  17. Dave C

    Every company in the country is having to cut back and live within their budget. Why should municipal governments be any different. Tax revenue is down, lay off people you can't afford. Why should government continue to grow when they 1) don't have the money, and b) no longer have the growth to support the positions?

    May 27, 2009 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
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