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San Bernardino police, fire officials promise quality service amid bankruptcy

July 12, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
San Bernardino police and fire officials are promising to provide quality service despite the city's bankruptcy filing.

Police still patrol the streets of San Bernardino, and they are making it clear that they will still be on the job amid the city's financial woes.

In a town with more than its share of crime, emergency services is a big issue.

"We will continue to provide emergency services and do the best we can to provide those emergency services to our community," said Chief Robert Handy with San Bernardino police.

The city's bankruptcy filing caught both agencies off guard. Cuts have already been made and more are likely on the way. While both departments expect to tighten their belts, they're hoping they can handle this through attrition.

"We will be reshuffling, and we're going to continue to staff our patrol at the level it is now. As we lose people in retirements or through budget cuts or through attrition or whatever happens, we're going to continue to keep our patrol staff about where it is now," said Handy.

City leaders may ask for more, and the mayor has made it clear he would like to renegotiate contracts. Residents admit the pay and perks police and fire get are hard to justify in a town where so many are struggling.

"More of us are losing our houses. We don't have jobs, and the list goes on and on and on. But their lifestyle remains the same. If we got to sacrifice, they got to sacrifice," said Dan Frazier, a San Bernardino resident.

When the alarm sounds, police and fire will still answer, but how fast will depend a lot on how deep those cuts end up being. Fire officials say one option they're considering is sharing some services with the county to try and save some money.

The San Bernardino City Council voted Tuesday to file for bankruptcy. Wednesday, City Attorney James Penman said he turned over evidence that some documents were falsified.

Penman would not say who he thinks are behind the documents or what government agencies were involved. He only confirmed that they were financial records from past budgets.

However, San Bernardino's Interim City Manager Andrea Travis-Miller says there have been some mismanagement of paperwork in the past, but she said she cannot find any serious fraud. She said the real problem is that the city's expenses are too high, the money coming in is not enough and cuts need to be made.

In a statement released Thursday, Travis-Miller said a variety of reasons led to the city's financial problems.

"There are numerous factors that contributed to the development of this situation over a number of years. Many of the city's practices have been less than ideal and it has been slow to make drastic adjustments as needed to correct its course as the economy continued to decline. Having reached a breaking point, the city now must take action," the statement read.

Also in the statement, Travis-Miller said she doesn't know what specific cuts will have to be made, but she believes the bankruptcy will move the city toward developing a sound and realistic budget in the future.


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