BALTIMORE (WJZ) — As the Baltimore City Council spends the week discussing and eventually voting on the budget for the upcoming fiscal year, calls are growing for them to reallocate funding that would otherwise go to the police department.

Dozens of people gathered outside City Hall Monday calling for the Baltimore Police Department to be defunded.

Among them was Tracy Richardson, who said the system has to change. He wants to see more of that money distributed to local community organizations and services.

“If you could build the communities up and give people hope, and then they have character, they wouldn’t feel like they’re lost and not a part of society,” he said.

Schoolteacher Rachel Wilkinson said she wants to see more money provided for education.

“We have other avenues that we could be supplying funds for that really could improve the lives of our constituency,” she said.

Council members are set to decide how to balance the $3.9 billion budget. Councilman Eric Costello, the chair of the city’s budget and appropriations committee, said members are divided on whether or not to make cuts to the police department, which is slated to receive $545 million.

“We have a crime plan, we have a staffing plan, we have a community engagement plan, those things have been endorsed by Judge Bernard who oversees the consent decree, but those things also cost money to implement,” Costello said.

The committee will hear from Police Commissioner Michael Harrison about the department’s funding on Friday. The city charter requires the budget to be signed by no later than June 26.

At the national level, during a roundtable discussion with members of the law enforcement community, President Donald Trump responded to the calls to defund police departments.

“There won’t be a defunding, there won’t be a dismantling of our police,” he said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House won’t consider defunding police agencies, calling it a “local matter.”

During a virtual discussion on ending systematic racism in law enforcement, Marc Morial, the president of the National Urban League, said police work is important but needs complete accountability.

“You have to fix the training system and you have to do continuous training, but if you don’t affect the culture, all the training in the world is for not,” he said.

Rachel Menitoff

Comments (8)
  1. YN says:

    It needs to be a combination, we need police, but they need to get rid of the officers that are just thugs w/ badges who assault & sometimes kill people when their job is just to arrest them- cops who plant evidence or look the other way for a bribe. We need community oriented police & citizen liaisons that we can have confidence in, not thugs who teargas, shove, hit and fire upon peaceful people exercising their lawful right to assemble & journalists just doing their jobs. We need officers capable of serving & protecting who have been properly trained to arrest people w/o hurting or killing them.

    We also need better courts & judges who will not undo good police work by letting the criminals go or plea bargain, STET & nolle prosc to lesser charges.

  2. Bill Smiths says:

    Wishful thinking my friend. I am sorry to say it but you are living in velvet fog if you think all that will happen- like saying tomorrow I m going hit the lottery but tomorrow never comes.

  3. anonymous says:

    we need cops-BETTER cops. They need to police the police better w/ trained civilian reviewers- randomly review their body cams, review all from those at protests get rid of bad cops prosecute them. I suspect most cops are good, some are poorly trained and some are bad. As we have seen they attack people who were not doing anything wrong, push down an old man and lie he tripped, punch people, shove them & sometimes kill them. If it were not for civilians recording, those cops would lie & get away w/ it. We all saw w/ our own eyes 4 cops kill an unarmed black man in handcuffs who was face down in the street screaming he could not breathe as all those cops held him down until he died. If 4 cops can;t get one handcuffed guy into a cop car (especially after he was unconscious) they were NOT good cops. Restricting someone ‘s breathing is NOT acceptable- the whole thing was because he allegedly tried to pass a fake $20 bill???

    citizens can effect change- after all we pay their salaries and we also vote. Defend bad cops like Trump and see how you do this fall. Crime is a problem but so are bad cops.

    PROTEST,VIDEO COPS & HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE, PRAISE THEM WHEN THEY DO THEIR JOBS WELL AND BY ALL MEANS VOTE!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. King Julian says:

      baltimore has problems just trying to hire cops period , 300 vacancies

  4. Frank says:

    Defund the police in one of the most dangers cites in america?! All while city residents are crying for help to lower the crime? Gotta be a leftist idea. STUPID.

    1. King Julian says:

      absolutely true, can anybody say 600 murders

  5. Larry Espey says:

    I would be all for it if they replace them w/ something better. I think the issue is that most cops are doing a good job and would not assault or endanger lives of peaceful citizens as we have seen officer do as of late. Perhaps what we need is someone not working for the police to police them, weed out the bad ones are recognize the good ones?

    I am not a cop, but my last raise was (according to my boss) largely based on the number of compliments they had received about my going above & beyond doing my job and “consistently providing a high level of service” I can say the officer that routinely patrols my community does that – he gets out of the car meets with people and takes the time to get to know us, especially the teens. He has a high level of trust in the community

  6. Larry Espey says:

    Had to add I don’t think the police have much to do with the high murder rate. Its largely gangs & drug dealers shooting each other and they think they can not get caught and the courts all too often let them off. The police try to solve crimes, but there is not much anyone can do to stop 2 guys w/ guns have one pull it out and say, this is my corner you m-effer and then shoot him jump in his Lexus and drive off. Who funds gangs and drug dealers? The people who buy and use the drugs of course……..but people cry and say don’t arrest Joe Niceguy for a little weed or a few pills ora hunk of crack cause he just “has a problem” cause he ain’t hurtin’ nobody- well he is!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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