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East St. Louis lays off eight police officers

police car lights
Jason Rojas
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In a letter released Wednesday to staff and media, East St. Louis City Manager Alvin Parks announced eight police officers are being laid off effective October 28.

Parks said that the police layoffs are “temporary but indefinite.” The layoffs would reportedly leave the East St. Louis police department with 44 officers, representing a 15 percent reduction in force.

Parks told the city council in September thathe would be laying off 17 firefighters and eight police officers, but then delayed layoffs citing union negotiations.

Parks now appears to have negotiated with the firefighters union to reduce costs in other ways.

Parks said in his statement that the city has a Memorandum of Understanding with the firefighters union, which will be released once the city council adopts it. But he said that the city and the police union “need to continue re-negotiating the contract” because East St. Louis “cannot approach meeting the requirements adopted” in the existing contract.

The police layoffs are part of an ongoing effort to reduce a budget deficit approaching $5.7 million. Previous belt-tightening measures implemented by Parks includes six administrative layoffs and the elimination of an unfilled position. According to the city manager’s statement, East St. Louis will continue cutting staff in the coming weeks. Other cost-saving measures outlined include reducing insurance and legal fees and “almost eliminating travel.”

Parks also said the city needs to expand its tax base so that it is no longer as dependent on tax revenue from the Casino Queen.

Parks has not returned messages requesting an interview.

Follow Camille Phillips on Twitter: @cmpcamille.