4:54pm

Tue May 24, 2011
Eastern and Central Kentucky

Police Could Eliminate Funeral Escorts

A neighborhood-based crime prevention program would be reduced from eight officers to four under a Lexington Police budget proposal. The program is called CLEAR -- Community Law Enforcement Action Response. It has the support of several Urban County Council members, including 3rd District Representative Diane Lawless.

"I really think that the CLEAR officers are a huge, huge asset to the community in a million ways."

But Police Chief Ronnie Bastin told the council Tuesday that the CLEAR program doesn't fit within the police department's two primary functions of responding to calls for service and investigating crimes.

"Our CLEAR Units are down a full squad -- eight people from the enforcement side -- and the support functions are what we're having to look at across the board."

Other programs that could be cut are DARE and a gang prevention initiative. Bastin's proposal also calls for eliminating police escorts for funerals. Last year Lexington provided police escorts for 2,041 funerals, using an estimated eight thousand man-hours.

"Those are support functions. It takes away the ability of the officers who are doing those from doing enforcement functions. So those are things that we're not going to be able to continue to do."

The council must finalize a budget before the start of the next fiscal year on July 1.