Spokane Police cuts hit home for Ben Stuckart

SPOKANE, Wash. - The new approved Spokane city budget means less police officers on the street, and with citizens already getting frustrated with the decrease in property crime investigations one city council member is learning first hand how those people feel.

Cutting down a budget is never an easy task especially when those choices affect you personally. Just ask City Council President Ben Stuckart. He's been burglarized not once but twice.

"Pretty upsetting and violating," Stuckart said. "[They] stole all of my wife and grandmother's jewelry."

Spokane property crimes woes

"One of them was my grandma's wedding ring."

So when it comes to property crimes investigations in Spokane, you can believe him when he says, 'I know how you feel.'

As city council president, Stuckart fields many calls, complaining about the lack of response or a seemed lack of concern by Spokane police concerning property crime.

"When the message is that we don't have enough staff to investigate your crime and you need to go hit the pawn shops yourself and go get a security system it's time for us to all work together," he said.

But with shrinking revenues and an ongoing recession Spokane's 2013 budget is noticeably smaller. So is its staff, including 21 police and 23 fire positions eliminated by the budget.

Stuckart proposed several alternatives to increase police numbers but those were shot down.

He says now it's up to the city to increase small business and encourage production growth to bring in new money. He also noted increasing efficiency with a smaller police force can only go so far.

"We're underfunded for a city our size and we are going to have to address the number of officers on the street," he said.

The Patrol Anti-Crime Team (PACT) actively investigates burglaries and property crimes but relies heavily on homeowners and neighbors to be their eyes and ears on the streets. Anyone who sees anything suspicious is urged to call police immediately.