But supporters of the post say that the costs will be recouped by more effective law enforcement. "It's really a small amount of money," says Berger. "Something that comes out to be about a dollar per person in Cambridge is not a lot to pay to improve public safety."
"This is one of those few areas where we will get more impact out of the dollars we spend," agrees Reeves.
Supporters of the new appointment, however, cite one additional benefit: selecting a commissioner would give the city an opportunity to promote its affirmative action policy.
"The department heads are almost all white men," says Berger. "I think we would be very disappointed if the city did not make every effort to find a qualified minority candidate."
But once the City Council approves the commissioner as a budget item, complete discretion over whom to appoint goes to Healy.
"Not all of the department heads in the city are white males," says Richard C. Rossi, deputy city manager. "But we would certainly welcome the opportunity to appoint minorities. It is a goal of the city manager's to appoint minority department heads when he can."
In any case, the process won't begin for some time. The post must first survive the budget hearings held next week. And according to Rossi, the city manager will not begin interviewing candidates until September.
"No one has been interviewed; he has no one in mind. The process is entirely open," says Rossi.