These Us Cities Defunded Police: ‘we’re Transferring Money To The Community’
More than 20 major cities have reduced police budgets in some form, and activists are fighting to ensure that is only the start
After defund the police became the rallying cry of protests last summer, Democratic leaders spent months criticizing the slogan and worrying about its impact on elections. While party infighting was dominating headlines, local activists were campaigning to make the catchphrase a reality in cities across the US.
Since the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor prompted unprecedented uprisings, some racial justice groups have successfully pressured municipal lawmakers to cut police funds and reinvest the money in services. And with reformed 2021 budgets coming into effect, cities are slowly beginning to redistribute law enforcement money to housing, mental health programs, food access and other programs.
We are showing the country how reinvestments from the police budget can actually make many peoples lives so much better and safer, said Gregorio Casar, a councilmember in Austin, Texas, who helped pass a major cut to the citys law enforcement budget and is now reallocating those dollars to housing programs. This will build momentum for changes to police budgets across the country.
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“There were hundreds of officers who were there and I met and talked to many of them,” Lightfoot said. “And there was a lot of emotion from a range of the spectrum from total despair, to anger and rage and kind of everything in between – and that’s to be expected. So it’s a really hard loss.”
Lightfoot has also had several public disagreements with FOP leader John Catanzara, who has been an outspoken critic of the mayor’s policies.
The police union president and mayor have often found themselves at odds on a number of issues including strategies to reduce violence citywide, police contract negotiations and logistical changes within the department.
Rank-and-file officers issued a no-confidence vote against Lightfoot and Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown in May, citing reasons including exhaustion and the department’s decision to cancel days off on multiple occasions, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Even amid that public acrimony, Lightfoot still was adamant about putting more funding behind the department.
They mayor hopes the increased budget will be used to recruit officers from across the country, and to mine opportunities in the city of Chicago itself as part of an effort to bolster the departments ranks.
The mayor said that the budget will also include funding for programs designed to help officers with their mental and physical well-being.
Stop. All of you. All of us. Just stop, she added.
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Chicago San Francisco Learn Their Lessons On ‘defund The Police’
We need law enforcement and need to fully fund it.
While that isnt breaking news to most people, it apparently came as a total surprise to mayors of two of Americas biggest and most violent cities.
In the summer of 2020, San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced massive budget cuts to the San Francisco police and sheriffs departments over the next two years. In a news conference, the mayor said $120 million in funding would be redirected from law enforcement agencies to instead be spent on addressing disparities in the Black community.
With this budget, we are listening to the community … , Breed said.
In Chicago, meanwhile, Mayor Lori Lightfoots proposed budget she unveiled just months after Breeds San Francisco directive included an $80 million reduction in tax dollars going to the Chicago Police Department. Lightfoot claimed she wasnt bowing to the defund the police movement, but the citybureau.org website noted that her budget would bring an end to four consecutive years of raising the police budget.
So, how have things worked out in those cities?
Very badly, apparently.
Mayor Breed had seen enough. She sent an urgent request that the city Board of Supervisors provide more money funds that she had cut for the police to support a crackdown on crime, including open-air drug dealing, car break-ins and retail theft.
How about Chicago?
CBS Chicago reported she wants to:
Ask Chicago. Ask San Francisco.
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Wgn News Daily Update
Democrats are looking to shake off the defund the police slogan, moving to be more visibly proactive in addressing rising crime rates even as Republicans seek to tie them back to the 2020 movement ahead of Novembers midterms.
President Biden visited New York City on Thursday to meet with Mayor Eric Adams , a former New York City police captain who was elected last year, and Gov. Kathy Hochul to announce new plans to combat gun violence days after two police officers were fatally shot by a man with an illegal gun.
Enough is enough because we know we can do things about this, Biden said. But for the resistance, were getting from some sectors of the government and the Congress and the state legislatures and the organizational structures out there, you know, Mayor Adams, you and I agree, the answer is not to abandon our streets, thats not the answer.
The remarks come amid increasing concern about rising crime violent crime rates in some major cities. According to a recent report from the Council on Criminal Justice , homicides in major U.S. cities have increased 44 percent since 2019 and five percent since 2020.
Republicans are looking to pin those increases on Democrats, in an extension of a strategy they used successfully in 2020 to tie down ballot Democrats to activists seeking to defund the police in the wake of high-profile police killings of Black Americans.
Democratic Mayors Defunded Their Police While Spending Millions On Their Own Police Protection
CHICAGO, June 1, 2020 — Demonstrators protest over the death of George Floyd in Chicago, the United … States, on May 30, 2020. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot imposed a curfew on the city on May 30. Chicago’s precautions followed a chaotic and violent Saturday evening, when many businesses along the streets were looted, police cars overturned and some properties damaged.
In 25 major U.S. cities across the country, officials have already cut or have proposed cutting funds from police budgets.
However, in as many as 20 of those same cities, mayors and other city officials enjoy the personal protection of a dedicated police security detail. In many cities, this security costs taxpayers millions of dollars per year.
We found that the defunding of police coupled with taxpayer dollars spent on police security details protecting public officials only occurred in cities run by Democratic mayors.
In mid-May, our auditors at OpenTheBooks.com filed Freedom of Information Act requests with these 25 cities, asking which city officials have police details, how many officers are assigned, and how much money it costs.
The city spent $17.3 million between 2015 and 2020 to guard unnamed city officials. Thats as Mayor Lori Lightfoot said shes opposed to defunding police while we found 400 police officers positions were quietly cut during 2020.
San Francisco, California
In San Francisco, the police officers are called peace officers.
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A Paradigm Shift: $870m Cut From Police
For years, local advocacy groups have packed city hall meetings, demanding jobs not jails, care not cops and books not bars urging officials to stop expanding budgets for police and jails. They have argued that cities should instead prioritize the programs that have been defunded over the years that would address root causes of crime and poverty, like education, healthcare and homeless services.
Local lawmakers largely ignored activists pleas, and police spending has tripled over the last 40 years, helping to make the US a world leader in incarceration and police killings. Even as cities have faced financial shortfalls, local governments consistently spent an increasing on police .
The dynamics suddenly changed last summer during massive Black Lives Matter demonstrations after video emerged of a Minneapolis officer pressing his knee on George Floyds neck for almost nine minutes.
Everyone on the street provided a new window into understanding and defining the problem of police brutality, said Nikki Jones, a professor of African American studies at the University of California, Berkeley, who described a paradigm shift in conservations about police and systemic racism.
New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Baltimore and a dozen other cities have all also reduced police spending. And some of these cities are now demonstrating the impacts of their new budgets.
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Days after a police officer was murdered in her city, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot vowed Wednesday to boost police funding next year after it was slashed amid calls to defund the department.
Its my expectation that the police department budget will increase, no question. We have to, Lightfoot said at a press conference announcing her budget forecast.
She gave no indication of how much she plans to increase the departments $1.6 billion budget.
She only said additional funds were needed to recruit the next generation of officers, as well as increase the resources devoted to the health and wellness of our police officers.
We have to make sure we are continuing to provide resources to recruit the next generation of police officers and make sure were doing that recruitment in a way that reflects diversity of the city, she said.
The announcement comes after Lightfoots 2021 budget slashed law enforcement spending by $58 million and cut roughly 600 vacant positions amid last years Defund the police movement.
Lightfoots decision to increase police spending for next year comes on the heels of the death of Officer Ella French, who was shot at point-blank range while on duty and as crime rates continue to surge across the Windy City.
French, 29, was fatally shot and her partner critically injured after they pulled a car over on the citys South Side on Saturday.
The number of shooting incidents in the last week is up 27 percent over last year.
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How Austin Is Spending Police Funds
Austin, Texas, has made some of the most dramatic changes in the country, directly cutting roughly$20m from the police department, and moving $80m from the agency by shifting certain services out of law enforcement. The city has gone from spending 40% of its $1.1bn general fund on police to now allocating about 26% to law enforcement.
Public health and public safety are at the heart of this, said Chris Harris, the criminal justice director at Texas Appleseed, a local not-for-profit. When we take policing away, we are actually filling that void with alternatives that we know are going to help.
The Austin police funds were reallocated to emergency medical services for Covid-19, community medics, mental health first responders, services for homeless people, substance abuse programs, food access, workforce development, abortion services, victim support, parks and more. The city council is using money saved from the police budget to buy two hotels to provide supportive housing for homeless residents.
For decades, Austin has spent so many dollars policing homelessness, jailing the homeless, and paying for emergency rooms and 911 calls instead of reinvesting those same dollars to finally start reducing homelessness, said Casar, the local councilmember. By adjusting the police budget even just a little bit, we are going to beable to house and help hundreds of people with these two hotels and I hope well be able to buy more.
Biden Has Pledged To Spent $300 Million On The Community Oriented Policing Services Program
On a video posted on September 8, Biden brought up his reinvestment plan for local police while addressing the recent ads accusing him of wanting to defund police.
I not only dont want to defund the police, Im the one calling for $300 million more for local police for community policing, Biden said in response. I also think we should add social workers and psychologists to help police on 911 calls.
According to Bidens campaign platform on criminal justice, he wants that $300 million to go to a program that was originally funded through the 1994 Crime Bill:
Biden spearheaded the Community Oriented Policing Services program, which authorized funding both for the hiring of additional police officers and for training on how to undertake a community policing approach. However, the program has never been funded to fulfill the original vision for community policing. Biden will reinvigorate the COPS program with a $300 million investment. As a condition of the grant, hiring of police officers must mirror the racial diversity of the community they serve. Additionally, as president, Biden will establish a panel to scrutinize what equipment is used by law enforcement in our communities.
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Like Her Democratic Mayoral Counterparts In Portland Atlanta Los Angeles And New York Lightfoot Has Condemned Police Violence Outside Her Borders While Using Law Enforcement To Suppress Demonstrations In Her Own City
Elizabeth Weill-GreenbergSep 03, 2020
The morning after Officer Rusten Sheskey shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot called for a criminal investigation.
I am deeply disturbed by the video capturing part of the incident, she tweeted on the morning of Aug. 24. I urge civil & criminal authorities to pursue an immediate & thorough investigation of the shooting. We pray that Mr. Blake survives. And we pray for his children, and for peace and justice in Kenosha.
Like her Democratic mayoral counterparts in Portland, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and New York, Lightfoot has condemned police violence outside her borders, while using law enforcement to suppress demonstrations in her own city. Lightfoot ran for mayor as a progressive, promising criminal justice reform, but she has taken actions that have resulted in mass arrests of Black people and stamped out protest against the police, according to local activists.
What this proves is that regardless of party line, all these people are still capitalists, said Tanya Watkins, executive director of the Chicago group Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation. All of these people are invested in protecting wealth and ensuring that the most vulnerable folks living in communities remain poor.
On May 29, as protests gripped Minneapolis in the wake of George Floyds death, President Trump tweeted, When the looting starts, the shooting starts.
Democrats Fold On Defunding Police
Democrats around the country are folding like cheap suits when it comes to defunding the police as mayors across the country move to restore funding for police departments or like in Chicago raising their budgets. As usual an increase in crime has the Democrats running for cover as if the protests of last summer after the murder of George Floyd never occurred.
This ridiculous move by the Democrats is exactly why we are in the position we are in currently. The protests in 2020 are directly linked to public policy from 5, 10, and even 20 years ago. You cannot starve communities and expect to not experience some repercussions form those decisions. As the Democrats like Rahm Emanuel have closed schools and sucked social services from these communities they are in fact continuing a long tradition of segregation and deprivation of these communities that spilled out in to the streets last summer.
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After Caving To Defund Movement In 2020 Chicago Mayor Lightfoot Proposes More Police Funding As Crime Continues To Spiral
I think mayors across the country, particularly in this time, we have a moment where we can really change for the good, the narrative around accountability and legitimacy and policing. And weve got to seize this moment and move forward aggressively and not be timid. Weve got to be bold.
Thats what Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago had to say in June of 2020 as the U.S. Conference of Mayors launched a working group on Police Reform & Racial Justice following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
She would subsequently go on to slash the Chicago PDs budget by roughly $80 million for the 2021 budget.
While Lightfoot likely scored political brownie points with her Progressive allies, what she accomplished by simply defunding her own citys police department was neither effective reform, nor racial justice.
According to reporting done by conservative outlet, The Blaze, as of September 1st Chicago has recorded 524 homicides and 2,344 shootings up 3% and 9%, respectively, over the same time period last year.
As of October 18, 2021, a homicide tracker compiled by The Chicago Sun Times reports that 784 victims have been killed in Chicago over the last 12 months628 were African Americans.
Not only have Lightfoots policies and defunding of her citys police department not created any meaningful reform, but they have also exacerbated the rampant victimization of the very group she pretends to be advocating for.
Outside The United States
In Canada, politicians in major cities have expressed interest in diverting some police funds. In Toronto, city councilors Josh Matlow and Kristyn Wong-Tam have planned to propose a 10% cut to the police budget. In Montreal, Mayor has said she is in talks about the police budget.
In Scotland, a violence reduction unit was set up in 2005, which aims to prevent violence with educational and outreach programs.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair criticized Defund the police in a 2021 article for the New Statesman, describing it as “voter-repellent” and “the leftâs most damaging political slogan since ‘the dictatorship of the proletariat.'” Blair furthermore claimed that the slogan “leaves the right with an economic message which seems more practical and a powerful cultural message around defending flag, family and fireside traditional values.â Both the leaderships of the British Labour Party and the Conservative Party have pledged not to defund the police force.
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