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Norwalk police short on officers

Annie Zelm • Dec 5, 2010 at 10:07 AM

Norwalk police say they have 10 fewer officers in their department than the FBI recommends for a city of its size.

The city's police force, in fact, may also be small compared to police departments in similar Ohio cities, officers said.

The department may endure further cuts next year as the Norwalk's planners scramble to approve a balanced budget in yet another year of reduced revenues.

While most private and public workplaces are doing more with fewer employees, union officials say Norwalk police department has been hit particularly hard.

The city's charter allows the department to employ a chief, three captains, five sergeants and up to 16 patrolmen.

Because of attrition and two officers serving overseas, the force is down to 20 employees, including the chief and ranking officers. That's the same level of staffing Norwalk had in 1988, said Seth Fry, union director at Ohio Patrolmen's Benevolent Association.

While the population in area cities dwindled, Norwalk's population has grown by 14 percent in the past few decades. It had 14,731 residents in 1990, and an estimated 16,855 in 2009, according to U.S. Census data.

Layoffs haven't been announced yet and aren't likely to occur until early next year, though Mayor Sue Lesch and police Chief Dave Light met recently to discuss the issue.

Read the full story in Sunday's Register.

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