NAPERVILLE, Ill. (CBS) – There is fear and frustration in Naperville as the city plans big cuts in the local police department. On Tuesday night, hundreds of supporters joined officers on the street in protest. CBS 2’s Mike Parker reports.
A crowd of Naperville police officers, their families, friends and supporters gathered Tuesday night to protest the city’s plan to lay off six officers to save money.
Residents are concerned about safety.
“Crime doesn’t take a vacation. It doesn’t take off because there’s less police officers,” said Naperville resident Mary Ann Eberhardt.
Then, the crowd, some 400 strong, began a half-mile march to Naperville’s City Hall.
Naperville’s Fraternal Order of Police union says it negotiated a new contract with the city in good faith, never suspecting there would be firings.
“We thought it was a done deal. Within days, they turned around and said, ‘now that you’ve accepted this deal, we’re gonna lay you off.’ And for lack of a better word, we felt it was a double-cross,” said Naperville Police Officer Vince Clark.
Outside City Hall, protesters chanted “lock your doors” to people worried about their safety.
But inside the packed meeting called to ratify the layoff plan, the Naperville City Manager tried to quell those fears.
“We’re confident that our existing police force will continue to keep our city safe,” said Naperville City Manager Douglas Krieger. “The layoffs were a business decision based on our budget. And we still face a budget deficit of about $5 million for next year.”
Late Tuesday night, the Naperville City Council voted to postpone the decision to lay off the six officers for three weeks.
There is no guarantee that the city will rescind those planned firings. Like cities across the country, Napervile is facing a rocky economic future.