Police union sock puppet illustrates Fort Worth budget concerns



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Posted on July 10, 2013 at 5:58 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 10 at 6:44 PM

FORT WORTH — The Fort Worth Police Officers Association "socked" it to the City Council on the POA Facebook page over budget cuts, but Mayor Betsy Price says she doesn't expect the conflict to turn ugly.

The POA sock puppet says: "The Fort Worth City Council has cut over $20 million from the police department budget in the last four years."

Mayor Price said Wednesday she doesn't know where the sock got its numbers.

"The police department budget has gone up $42 million in five years," she said.

So who's right?

Sgt. Steve Hall, the POA president, said much of that $42 million merely covered pay raises and other contract costs. He said some of the rest paid for positions formerly funded by the crime district tax.

Hall said the city actually cut police overtime and failed to fund about 30 newly-created positions.

"It's a union," Price said. "It's their job to get what they think is important for their employees. I think it's posturing on the budget."

The mayor made it clear that the puppet doesn't offend her; she even posted the link for the public to watch the POA's production.

"This year, the city staff is recommending cutting another $20 million from the budget," the sock puppet said. "Pretty soon all we'll have left is crime."

Hall said he worries that any more cuts could slow response times, and perhaps put officers in dangerous situations without enough backup.

"We're not looking to cut any active officers," Mayor Price explained, adding that all departments have been asked to help close an estimated $45 million municipal budget gap.

E-mail jdouglas@wfaa.com