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. Shake hands with Obama....

    and that's what you get....a pink slip....hit the streets boys...

    May 26, 2009 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  2. Benny from DC

    I could use a job too, Obama. Man you suck as a president

    May 26, 2009 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  3. Fan of Common Sense

    HA! What a stimulus package!

    Economic stimulus comes from the PRIVATE SECTOR as a result of lower taxes and less government intervention, not from WRECKLESS GOVERNMENT SPENDING. For being so gullible and nieve, we are going to deserve the economic hell Obama is putting us in.

    May 26, 2009 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  4. Bamboozled by Obama

    This stimulus package is a load of pork. It hasn't done anything. Most of the money hasn't been spent.

    May 26, 2009 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  5. John G

    Ooops.....guess the stimulus wasn't that stimulating

    May 26, 2009 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  6. DavidinCA

    This will not be unique as the story of Government Stimulus unfolds. Hopefully the rest of the $800 billion being spent will be more effective than the $50 billion saving jobs in the auto industry or the hundreds of billions getting Wall Street all fixed up.

    Romney 2012 and I assure you he will know how to manage your country's wealth more responsibly.

    May 26, 2009 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  7. Syd

    Wow, good job Obama. You are SO smart. That stimulus plan sure worked to help create jobs, didn't it?.....FOR ONE YEAR ONLY! I'm so proud I didn't vote Obama. My blind wiener dog could do a better job running the country.

    May 26, 2009 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  8. Claudia in Houson

    As a native Ohioian who knows the geographics of Ohio's small cities, they have never had a population to support their tax base or any new industry. Columbus is a bigger city with a larger population to support their tax base and they are the ones who will get what's need to keep their streets safe.

    May 26, 2009 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  9. Had It

    Local, State, and Fed politicians keep getting paid. Why not the little people? If they can't run their city/state, get rid of the politicians. That is where the real problem and real financial drain are.

    May 26, 2009 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  10. TCM

    Obama's only friend is obama; the sooner his supporters realize that, the sooner they'll call for him to be removed.

    May 26, 2009 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  11. MatthewDetroit

    It only proves that Barack and the Dems are a bunch of liars.
    They sold us on protecting the jobs of police, but then they have money in their for a study of hookers in China and Gay Men in Brazil.
    Great way to spend American Tax Dollars and drive us further into debt. Good job Barack. All the crap about President Bush adding 5 Trillion onto the national debt in 8 years is nothing compared to what you will spend in your 4 years. STOP SPENDING MONEY.
    Further, CALIFORNIA has proven they do not know what they are doing. 40 Billion in debt. Why would anyone follow CA lead.

    May 26, 2009 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  12. Had It

    New police officers make that much money? Or did the Ohio politicians take a major cut of what was intended to pay for jobs?

    May 26, 2009 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  13. realistic obama supporter

    Wait a minute....
    You mean to tell me the sea doesn't REMAIN parted?!?

    I blame the media. They gave force to the omnipotent incarnation of an intelligent man, then stoked the fires with the masses of conforming and unthinking people, democrats and republicans alike. And instead of investing thinking power to understand what happened, it will be a game of attacking and defending the president.

    Media: 1
    U.S.: 0

    May 26, 2009 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  14. Ryan

    When are these politicians and Obama going to realize that more taxes and just throwing money at the problems are not the answer. We all need to live within our means and that includes the government. Just spending money ridiculously is part of the reason we are in this in the first place. At least we have governor Pawlenty in our state to keep the spending under control.

    May 26, 2009 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  15. Heather

    Perhaps looking at trimming the budget in other areas, might be more effective.

    May 26, 2009 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  16. SLM

    Jobs created with tax payer stimulus money is not a job created. A job created needs to be supported by consumerism, not socialism. Too bad these "temporary" jobs were touted as job creation. Nice try. Government needs to get serious and cut the pork out of the budget, not the police.

    May 26, 2009 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  17. munchmom

    This is just like all the others who received the stimulus money to get moving again--it is only temporary. How do you calculate this job loss when it was touted as "job creation" when Obama met with them?? I am waiting for those other millions of jobs.

    CNN, you probably won't post this–you are very selective when you see my name....

    May 26, 2009 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  18. Brad

    Why is CNN giving Rush credibility? Lets not forget (GHWBush) put her on the Federal bench to start with.

    I am losing faith in CNN and its constant pandering to Rush Limbaugh. It wont be long and they will be apologizing to Rush just like Richard Steele.

    May 26, 2009 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  19. mark

    A lot of promises made and a lot of promises broken. Eloquent rhetoric hides the truth along with the news media, but eventual transparency will be found and liberals and conservatives will combine to vote out the deceptors of our minds.

    May 26, 2009 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  20. annie for Palin

    Remember when obama was bragging bragging bragging how he created (just like God Almighty) these 25 jobs! Are you awake yet strickland?

    May 26, 2009 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  21. Reality

    Mouth writing checks the ___ can't cash. Stimulating.

    May 26, 2009 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  22. Cindy Ohio Independent Mom

    Unfortunately, this is not Obama's fault, it is the fault of a Mayor and his fellow employees who put the city in a bind. I live in Columbus and this mayor has wasted so much money on failed projects. He also has a ton of unfinished projects. They are going to spend some of the stimulus money on innercity neighborhoods that are gang and drug infested. I do not understand why they will not put money into neighborhoods that still have homeowners and buyers that do not mind buying in those neighborhoods. They are going to put money into neighborhoods that will be tore up again in a few years. Why wont the government put money into the neighborhoods that can be saved. Not the ghetto! Sorry if this sounds racist. By the way I am a black woman.

    May 26, 2009 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  23. Dawn

    This is so sad that they could lose their jobs, but the economy sucks!
    We need law enforcement (well good cops), well with everyone so upset that Obama will take away their guns and what had happened in Pittsburgh. PA four police officers were killed by the automatics rifles, and the bullets went right through their patrol cars.

    I wish them well.

    May 26, 2009 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  24. Joe

    Surprisingly, no one has commented on this article! I guess the Obamabots are busy on all the other websites

    May 26, 2009 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  25. Henry Miller, Cary, NC

    This is exactly why some governors rejected the bailout–it's a temporary fix for permanent problems and it leaves states and municipalities on the hook for even greater expenses once the bailout money is gone.

    May 26, 2009 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
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