The Parthenon

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Editorial: Police layoffs could stunt Huntington progress


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Huntington is going through what many are calling a sort of renaissance. With a rejuvenating downtown, enrollment enlarging at Marshall ever year, and the university and city working together to combat the drug epidemic, that has stifled the growth of Huntington for years.

Huntington is becoming the Jewel city once again. Much of that can attributed to the efforts that the Huntington Police and Fire Department have made in the past few years.

Back in September Huntington saw 26 overdoses in the span of just four hours. There are few small cities such as Huntington and Charleston that are equipped to address a crisis such as that.

Crisis is the exact word for something as horrific as the opiate problem that Huntington is facing. But with programs such as Gro Huntington, Recovery Point, and the Huntington Health Center steps to combat this issue are all around.

Often though these addicts need influences by the police and fire department to give them that realization to get clean. These departments are often the difference between life or death for someone overdosing.

As students, we depend on them to keep us safe from crime in the surrounding area. Already this semester we’ve seen two robberies at the 7/11 across from Freshman South.

Thursday morning it was announced both the Police and Fire department would lay off a combined 24 city employees. Eleven of the 24 were Police officers, this will drop the department back to a staggeringly low staff.

Not since 2002, has the HPD been at such a low number. According to Mayor Steve Williams office, these cut backs will reduce the budget deficit to $2.2 million.

Williams has come under fire for not giving better warning that the city was struggling so much. Last week at the Huntingtin city council meeting some officers even called for the impeachment of Williams and the entire city council.

This past November, Williams was reelected for another four years. Williams prior to this had been commended for the cleaning up of Huntington and the making huge efforts in fighting the opiate crisis, having spoken and met with representatives at the federal level.

“We have made every effort to save as many jobs as possible and continue providing essential services,” Williams said. “These actions will not resolve all of our budget issues. We know we will be managing our way out of this for the next 18 months with the primary objective of avoiding further reductions in force. Our residents expect and deserve world-class service, and as we continue to address these financial constraints, we will implement procedures to ensure this cannot happen again.”

Not only did 24 people lose their jobs, but the progress the city had been making may be put on hold or even reverted. Only time will tell, but for now the Mayor’s main focus should be on digging Huntington out of this deficit, because this not only hurts the city but inevitably it will hurt Marshall as well.

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