BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Police budgets are under scrutiny nationwide, including right now during a Baltimore budget hearing.
In the past decade, the Baltimore City Police budget has well-outpaced inflation. It’s now over half a billion dollars.
Some Baltimore City Councilors want to see that shrink.
“Addressing violence in Baltimore City. I don’t believe that a budget that looks like the one that’s right next to me will get it done,” Councilman Kristerfer Burnett said.
Council President Brandon Scott and Delegate Nick Mosby argue high crime trends show the city is not getting a good return on investment.
“We have been budgeting this way for most of my lifetime and we haven’t gotten any results,” Scott said.
“We should be investing in Baltimore’s future and not trying to always to arrest our way or prosecute our way out of circumstances that were created by failed policies of the past,” Mosby said.
Councilman Bill Henry does not want any cuts to be seen as punitive.
“It would be more cost-effective to take those funds and invest them in the community and eliminate the root causes of crime,” Henry said.
Some funding in recent years is federally mandated through the department’s consent decree.
Police reform advocate Phil Goff, on a panel this week with Police Commissioner Michael Harrison, said officers are asked to do too much and money instead needs to go to experts in other fields.
“You can’t ask someone to do firearms and first aid and mental health and substance abuse in the same job and expect you’re going to get people qualified to do all of those things all of the time,” Goff said.
Gov. Larry Hogan, Thursday, to Time Magazine, took issue with defunding police.
“I think the idea of defunding or reducing funding for police is a terrible idea,” the governor said. “We’ve been able to improve things by investing more in police.”
The City Police budget hearing is the last of the week and is expected to go until 9 p.m.
After the budget is passed by council, the mayor has final say.