Victim's mother worries cutting police officers could mean more crime

By Kimberly Holmes – bio | email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19)  - Cincinnati is facing a deficit of $60 million in next year's budget, and hundreds of police officers could wind up out of jobs. On Wednesday, Cincinnati Police Chief Tom Streicher outlined plans that could mean layoffs for between 140 and 300 police officers.

Tri-state native Tonia Mason is calling it a dangerous reality.

Mason's baby, 19-year-old James Perkins, will never grow up. In September 2008, Perkins was on his way to his girlfriend's doctor appointment. She was pregnant at the time. Perkins stopped in a store for a second, but never came out.

"So I have a granddaughter who has never met her father due to the hands of this," said Mason.

Her son's killer was arrested last September; just three days shy of the second anniversary of Perkins' death. It brought Mason one step closer to justice. Something she says wouldn't be possible without the help of the detective who worked the case.

Fraternal Order of Police union president Kathy Harrell is worried more mothers like Mason won't have her same opportunity.

After the council meeting on Wednesday, Harrell told reporters an officer has to stand outside and guard the streetcar display downtown 24-7. Harrell said police should say no to projects like that one to ensure enough officers are on the streets to keep citizens safe.

"You're telling the citizens of Cincinnati it's more important to protect the streetcar yet you want to lay off 144 police officers and not protect the citizens of Cincinnati," said Harrell.

Harrell said, right now, city officers are already doing more with less. Harrell said officers are better trained, injuries to officers are down, and community relationships are better, but that won't be the case if officers are laid off.

"I think what's going to happen at the end of this budget process is we will see definitely where council members stand on what their priorities are," said Harrell. "And whether or not that is the safety of citizens or recycling bins or streetcar or port authority, and I can go on and on."

"Some kind of gun violence is happening in this city daily," said Mason. "How is it we're even proposing police cuts?"

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