Uh oh. A $1.9 million cut to the proposed fiscal 2011 Lansing Police budget (that would start July 1) is bad news in the midst of this recent wave of murders and shootings in Lansing.

But, to jump to that conclusion would be disingenuous.

While $1.9 million in cuts sounds like a lot, the police department�s budget is varied and complicated. The department�s entire budget is made up of over 100 little budgets within nine bigger budgets that are all under the roof of the police department�s proposed $33 million general fund allotment.

For example, the city is looking to cut the police administration�s �gun allowance� budget down $58,250 from $60,750 to $2,500 � but, in this fiscal year, the administration is projected to spend only $754 of the $60,750 it was given (and by �administration,� we�re talking about the department�s leadership and civilian employees, not the patrol division). Is that a $58,250 cut, or a $1,746 increase?

(All figures cited here are from the city�s line-item budget, and compare the adopted fiscal year 2010 budget, which runs July 1 2009 to June 30, to the proposed fiscal 2011 budget, which starts July 1 and ends June 30, 2011.)

No doubt, however, salary cuts are a big part of the $1.9 million in � cuts. In the police administration budget, $77,545 could be trimmed (from $950,395 to $872,850). In the north precinct�s budget, where it appears most of the personnel costs are budgeted, the cut is $1,587,925 (from $11,686,017 to $10,098,092).

But, overall, the north precinct�s budget is proposed to increase from $22,140,073 in this fiscal year to $22,239,075 in fiscal 2011. Overtime, fringe benefits (health care rises, as usual), sick leave, the gun allowance and the clothing allowance could all get more money compared to this fiscal year.

Further, in two budgets, salaries are proposed to increase. In the investigations and special operations budget, total salaries would jump $38,550 (from $855,348 to $894,051). In the maintenance division, salaries could go up $32,974 from $418,587 this fiscal year to $451,561 in the next fiscal year. Plus, the investigations division would get a $32,000 boost in overtime, $7,000 more in sick leave, and $3,000 more in gun allowance.

It seems, at least on paper, that some of the cuts just plain will not affect public safety. For example, that gun allowance for the administration. But, who knows what it�s like being a patrol officer or a detective � maybe the overtime budget needs more.

Until city leaders and the Fraternal Order of Police hammer out concessions and make an official announcement, we won�t really know what of that $1.9 million will be affecting the officers on the street, out on patrol. That is, the information that will feed the public�s perception of who�s keeping watch over the city's safety.