BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Baltimore City Council on Monday approved budget cuts for certain Baltimore Police Department units amid a nationwide call for cities to reduce police spending.
Council members voted to cut around $22 million from the police department’s $550 million budget. Among the cuts are $2.4 million from the department’s mounted and marine units and nearly $7 million in officer overtime.
Baltimore City Council approved $22.4 million in cuts to @BaltimorePolice, including about $2.4 million in cuts to the Marine & Mounted Units and almost $7 million in cuts to Police OT. @wjz pic.twitter.com/EnXJOA3nj6
— Rachel Menitoff (@RachelMenitoff) June 16, 2020
City Council President Brandon Scott, who is also the Democratic nominee for mayor, said he believes Baltimore must reallocate its budget away from dependence on the police department and instead reinvest that money in agencies that focus on developing young people and communities.
He added the city can also reduce police spending while still adhering to the federal consent decree.
“These cuts are again what I’m going to say are responsible cuts to the police department budget that show that this council and the folks moving forward … are serious about changing the way we reallocate our funds,” he said at the council’s budget committee meeting earlier Monday. At that meeting, a motion to defund the marine unit passed and the committee also approved an amendment to disband the mounted and marine police units.
Residents WJZ spoke with Monday night agreed.
“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 part of society,” Tracey Richardson said.
“We have other avenues that we could be supplying funds for that really could improve the lives of our constituency,” Baltimore resident Rachel Wilkinson said.
In the future, Scott said in order for the police department to receive state or federal grant funding, they will have to come before the council for approval.
By eliminating the unrestricted funding, Scott said there is now a higher oversight of the department’s budget.
“We are just showing that we are going to be more transparent with the budget. We are not going to allow tens of millions of dollars unallocated. You are going to have to follow the process. But, again this is just the beginning,” he said.
While the city council can make cuts to the budget, only the mayor can reallocate funding to other sources. At Monday night’s Board of Estimates meeting, Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young said he would let the cuts stand.