Are youth police services on the chopping block?

Last week, Hayward resident Julie Machado sent an e-mail to the Hayward City Council and City Manager Greg Jones with the subject line “YFS in budget cuts???”

She asked if the city, which faces a projected budget deficit of more than $10 million this year, is seriously considering cutbacks to the Youth and Family Services Division of the Police Department and to the program that funds school resource officers on Hayward campuses.

No one has actually denied the rumor of potential YFS cutbacks, or at least the thought of them, but Jones told me yesterday that he considers it “way too preliminary” in the budgeting process. No decisions have been made on these issues, he said.

“At this point we’re just looking at ideas, priorities,” Jones said. “This reduction is not something I see staff supporting. … But it’s one of many ideas out there.”

Anyway, below is Machado’s e-mail and a written response from Jones.

Dear Hayward City Council Members and City Manager,

I have heard disturbing news that part of the proposed Hayward City Budget cuts may involve cutting the entire Youth & Family Services (YFS) division of the police department, along with all the School Resource Officers (SRO’s). As I understand it, the Hayward Police Dept is offering up the entire YFS division and the SRO’s as its part of the budget cuts.

As you may know, YFS offers counseling services to truant, runaway and incorrigible youth and their families, as well as offering counseling services in some schools, where there is no other counseling offered, and to families traumatized or victimized by crime. The SRO’s are placed at the City’s worst schools, to address gang issues, vandalism, and other teen-caused crime.

It makes no sense to me to cut the entire YFS division and the SRO’s. First, many of the YFS positions are funded by grants–if you want to make cuts, then cut the general fund portion of the division but don’t cut those funded by outside money. Second, back a while, you all worked hard to get community oriented policing in place, and YFS is the epitome of “preventative medicine”, counseling services, to prevent crime. Third, the schools are going to be in even worse shape soon–and the City’s response is to cut out police officers that work at the schools???! Fourth, what are these families going to do without these services? You will be inviting more truancy, victimization and chaos into their lives. Fifth, you will be inviting more crime and vandalism into the lives of their neighbors, who want you to improve their City, not neglect it.

Please tell me that I am wrong and that you will not let YFS and the SRO’s go, despite a difficult budget year!

Julie Machado
Hayward Resident and Native

Here is the city manager’s response:

Dear Ms. Machado

Thank you for voicing your concerns. The budget development process is currently at the staff review level, and any ideas or suggestions are just that at this point in the process. No decisions regarding staffing or other necessary reductions have been made. Recommendations will not be developed fully and brought forward to Council until June. As we struggle to manage a $10 million General Fund deficit this current year, and a larger deficit in the coming year, however, many difficult decisions will be required and many alternatives explored to bring our budget into balance. The reality is that our Police Department makes up the largest portion of our General Fund budget, so there is difficulty in significantly reducing expenditures without impacting the Police Department operations in some way. Police department leadership and the City Manager’s office continue to look for alternatives to staff reductions that would impact core services.

Council’s stated priorities are Public Safety and Cleanliness, and I can assure you that staff’s ultimate recommendations to Council will support those priorities to the greatest extent possible, again recognizing the significant fiscal challenges ahead for the community and our ability to provide services.

Greg Jones

City Manager