Waterloo Police discuss what they lose if budget is cut - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Waterloo Police discuss what they lose if budget is cut

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Hundred of guns are no longer on the streets and Waterloo Police say it's because of the work of a special unit launched in 2009. But, the unit could be cut, if the city's budget is reduced.

The Violent Crime Apprehension Team, or the VCAT Unit's, main goal is to take guns out of the hands of criminals. Last year the five person team took 42 guns off the streets, but if the city cuts the budget, police say the team will be eliminated.

Three hundred guns are no longer on the streets because of the work done by the VCAT Unit.

"Their mission is to get guns out of the hand's of people who shouldn't have them," said Major Joe Leibold, Waterloo Police Department.

Just this month, the VCAT Unit recovered six guns following a burglary at Karma Bar, where six men were arrested, but it's possible the VCAT unit will be trimmed.

"To address a 2.5% cut, the number is about seven officers, due to some other shortfalls...that is really kind of the only option we have," said Major Leibold.

City council member Sharon Juon weighs in about what the potential reduction in the budget could mean.

"It's disturbing...you know when you've got a successful program why would you possibly want to remove it?" said Juon. "When we've proven that something works those are the kind of programs we have to keep."

Major Leibold says there are no other options.

"If there was anywhere else we could cut I would prefer that, but there really isn't," said Major Leibold. "Our patrol division is really thin as it is...the chief uses the term we are a 'bare bone' police department, we just don't have the resources."

In the past two months the VCAT Unit recovered an AR-15 rifle, like the one used in the Florida school shooting.

Councilman Steve Schmitt tells KWWL he was "unhappy" with the impact statement the Waterloo Police Department provided about the cuts. He says he was hopeful the department would be more creative with their reductions, before cutting employees. 

City council says they will vote on the budget March 8. 

KWWL attended the Saturday budget work session, for that story CLICK HERE.

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