GREENFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Greenfield Police Department has proposed cuts to patrols in order to accommodate budget cuts passed by the City Council last year. 22News looked into what is next in this process.

The Greenfield City Council meeting Wednesday night sparked controversy when Police Chief Robert Haigh announced the department’s plans to eliminate patrols between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. entirely starting February 1st in an effort to accommodate budget cuts approved by the city council over the summer and a number of officer departures over the last few months.

The Mayor’s office called it unfortunate and emphasized that it’s just a proposal.

“It’s a truly, truly regrettable situation. But, eliminating the night shift was the least bad option,” said Greenfield Mayor Roxanne Wedegartner. “It’s not as if that is all set in stone. I think we tried really hard to convey that in our back and forth with the council and it will be set in stone if we can’t come up with a solution.”

City Councilors were shocked both by the proposed solution and the timing of the so-called proposal.

“We received no financial orders or financial requests from the council and now we’re told that in two weeks this is the change that must happen. So it was shocking,” remarked Greenfield City Councilor Marianne Bullock.

The cuts in question reduced the department’s annual budget back to approximately what they received in 2019, in addition to denying a funding increase request of six percent. Those were finalized in May. Then in June, according to the mayor, then-acting police chief William Gordon informed the council of the potential ramifications, with assurance that the department would come up with the best plan possible.

“The police department worked very hard over the summer to make it work with the officers that they had and to explore finding different solutions,” said the Mayor.

In the meantime, an application for a federal grant that could help the issue was approved in October, but the money has been delayed. The department was awarded a grant by the DOJ in October to help bridge the gap. However, according to the Mayor the award-email was lost in the shuffle at the city’s financial department.

One detail both the mayor and city council acknowledged is significant: the department is already understaffed due to six departures over the course of this year.

More meetings are being planned to find a solution. The chief, mayor’s office and city council have agreed to hold an emergency meeting before February 1 to look at alternative options. That meeting has not been scheduled yet.

22News will continue to follow this story and will provide updates on air and online when they become available.