HOLLYWOOD, Fla. - The Hollywood Police Department is getting smaller, and veterans officers who have resigned blame the city.
In 2011, the city declared a state of financial urgency, allowing it to make across the board pay cuts and eliminate many of the departments' long-standing benefits.
The department is budgeted for 331 officers -- 20 positions are currently frozen, 25 officers quit last year, and 10 more resigned this week.
"We're at the bottom of the pay scale in Broward County and for us to get to the middle of the road, we would have to go up 24 percent," said Jeff Marano, the president of the Broward County Police Benevolent Association.
"The PBA leadership has decided over the course of the past couple of years that they were going to use politics, delay tactics, and intimidation to try to get what they want," said Raelynn Storey with the city of Hollywood.
"It comes down to being a valued employee," said Stephanie Szeto, who resigned from the Hollywood Police Department after 23 years with the agency.
Szeto recently joined the Broward Sheriff's Office.
"It's going to be a drastic change, going from being a sergeant supervising people to becoming a road patrol deputy again," she said.
Tony Adams resigned this week after 15 years with the department.
"When I came here, I signed a document that said I'll run toward gunfire, I'll run toward bullets, and I'll protect your presence so long as you maintain my future and protect my future -- and they didn't. They took it from me," he said.
The union said a reduced police force could mean crime increases and investigations suffer.
"It's almost like blackmail in a way where you're being held hostage in this budgetary process," said John Kavanaugh of Hollywood.
"If there's not enough police officers out in the community, what do we do for help?" said another Hollywood resident.
City officials said a new proposal would give the lowest-paid officers a 28 percent raise and a minimum increase of nearly 5 percent for officers across the board.
Sources told Local 10 Crime Specialist John Turchin up to 10 officers will resign by the end of the month.
The Broward PBA plans to demonstrate at Hollywood City Hall in two weeks.
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