Police Beat

May 7

(2009-215612) 4:37 p.m.: How's this for depressing? As I write this, the clock is officially counting down on my 20s — 11 hours, 15 minutes … 14 minutes — and I have unbridled adulthood staring me in the face. The things that could once be dismissed as "youthful indiscretions" are now "character flaws." Apparently, I can no longer bounce from paycheck to paycheck; now I have to worry about "the future." I'm even buying a house. What's next? Children?

Oh God, it's depressing.

See, it's one thing to be 24 or 25 and writing for an alternative weekly newspaper. That's "edgy," and it's a more profitable career move than chosen by the 80 percent of your J-school class who are at this point in their lives still living with their parents. But at a certain age — 11 hours, seven minutes — you have to look out at the media landscape and realize that it's all going to hell in a handbasket and there's no longer such a thing in this business as "growth potential."

There isn't much in the way of other career options — thanks, Great Recession — either.

The other thing about turning 30 is the realization that, well, you're just like everyone else. All of the "special qualities" that you grew up believing you had, all of the collegiate dreams of changing the world, have officially been smothered by the nihilistic epiphany of middle-class ambiguity.

Happiness is, in so many ways, dependent on the expectation of positive future outcomes. The closer you get to 30 — 11 hours exactly — the more you get the feeling that the days that come will be quite like the days that have passed. You are who you are; the time for major life changes has come and gone.

And then there's the fact that when I woke up this morning, my back had the sort of dull ache that one intuitively associates with the aging process. Maybe it's my imagination, but I could have sworn that my knees were making unfamiliar, unwelcome popping noises during my morning cardio. These are, of course, but harbingers of what's to come. So I have that to look forward to.

All of this is overlooking the proverbial elephant in the room: mortality. My life is, in even a rosy scenario, one-third over. The indulgences of my 20s — unhealthy food, liquor, tobacco, etc. — must be tempered and mitigated, lest they turn into serious health problems in my 30s and 40s. The world as I know it is changing.

But it could be worse. I could have been the dude sleeping behind a dollar store who was beaten and robbed.

(2009-216084) 10:47 p.m.: Having dispatched with my existential whining — 10 hours, 17 minutes to go — let's take a minute to explore an important subject coming to a police department near you: massive budget cuts and layoffs. You know how the city's about to can more than 300 of its employees to plug the $40 million deficit Mayor Buddy Dyer is running (but hey, we're getting a new arena!)? As many of 96 of them could come from the Orlando Police Department, which issued a statement on its potential budget reductions last week. Dyer, of course, has ordered all departments to shave 12 percent off their annual budgets, and OPD's preliminary list has an 11 percent budget cut — $10 million of its annual $92.5 million — so more cuts may be needed.

All of that makes perfect sense. It's not like the city was ranked the sixth most dangerous city recently … oh, wait. Maybe OPD can sponsor another 40 days of prayer, as it did in 2007, when all crime was solved.

Anyway, let's take a quick look-see at where these cuts are coming from. There are 52 proposed civilian staff cuts, including the OPD horse groomer (wha?), the contracted polygraphist, a supply clerk, a forensic imaging supervisor and some administrative assistants. OPD also plans to get rid of 15 street cops — well, only five, because it expects 10 more to retire soon — unless federal funding comes in to save their jobs. The department will also get rid of a sergeant and three officers connected to the mounted patrol — the guys that ride around on horseback — and eliminate "line-up pay." Also, the department will begin to charge its officers who take their cars home, if they live outside city limits. The city's also going to "delay" hiring 25 officers that Buddy promised in his "public safety initiative" a few years back. These are tough times, indeed.

How will that affect you? That remains to be seen, although it's difficult to imagine that the department provides the same quality of service when more than one of every 10 dollars it spends has disappeared into the financial abyss.

In other news, there was a burglary on Bruton Boulevard, and a pretty boring one at that. Nine hours, 57 minutes left.

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