The Palm Springs Police Union is in the middle of tough contract negotiations with the City of Palm Springs.
Earlier this week, the union sent out a letter to business owners warning that if the city continues to reduce public safety personnel, Palm Springs could see an increase in crime.
This year alone, officer William Hutchinson told the City Council Wednesday that the Palm Springs Police Department has,”Lost our jail, nine police officers, 20 (or) 22 service members including dispatchers, jailers and community service officers,” he said.
Two years ago, the police department was catching 55 criminals a week but that number is now down to 30 per week.
The association said that doesn’t mean crime is down — only that there are less officers and resources on the streets to prevent crimes.
The association blames the city for the cutbacks, and in a letter to business owners, it threatened to launch a public relations campaign with billboards and ads in tourist magazines warning that people should be extra cautious when coming to Palm Springs.
“We don’t see any reason the businesses have to suffer because of a disagreement that may be going on between the officer’s association and the City of Palm Springs,” said Joy Meredith, who owns Crystal Fantasy and sits on the Police Advisory Board.
Luciano Ramirez is also a board member.
He owns Latino Books Y Mas.
“It’ll definitely hurt business,” he said. “That means if the people don’t come to Palm Springs, that means I have less sales tax that’ll go to the city — that’ll go to the county or that’ll go to the state.”
The November election is less than two months away and several local political ads have already drawn fire from business owners who said they cast Palm Springs in a negative light.
“I’ve noticed some Canadians care starting to come back into town,” said Ramirez. “The last thing we need is negative pr.”
More than 50 members of the Police Officers Association showed up for the council meeting in support of one another.
Still, councilmember Ginny Foat said despite their tough negotiations with the city, launching a negative campaign against the city will hurt the wrong people.
“The businesses that have put all of their hard earned money into their businesses, and who are going through tough economic times, are the brunt of this letter and I’m really disappointed in the union for having done that,” said Foat.
News Channel 3 pointed out to Hutchinson that Mayor Steve Pougnet called Police Chief David Dominguez to the podium and Chief Dominguez confirmed that part one and two crimes are down in Palm Springs over the last two years.
Hutchinson responded by saying, “Part one and two crimes are down all over the entire United States and unfortunately law enforcement is extremely concerned about that pendulum swinging the other way in the very near future.”