• Liberte Austin

Which Cities Have Defunded Police

Updated: Nov 11, 2020

Calls for defunding the police following the death of George Floyd as well as COVID-19 related budget cuts are having a significant impact on law enforcement dollars.

At least 18 cities have cut funding or have made plans to do so in the wake of protest and civil unrest across the country.

Here's a list of cities that have cut or will cut budgets for law enforcement.

Asheville, North Carolina City Council voted to slash the police budget by $770,000 on Sep. 22, 2020. This represents a 3% decrease in from their total police budget. The Citizen Times reported, activists in Asheville were asking for a 50% reduction in the police budget.

Asheville’s City Manager cautioned that any big changes to the police budget would take time and couldn't be done immediately since other structures weren't in place to take over tasks now done by officers.

Austin, Texas cut their police budget by $150 million dollars on Aug 13, 2020. Austin City Council voted unanimously to reinvest the money in social services amid protests. Governor Abbot issued the following statement in response to the cuts:

"Some cities are more focused on political agendas than public safety," said Governor Abbott. "Austin’s decision puts the brave men and women of the Austin Police Department and their families at greater risk and paves the way for lawlessness. Public safety is job one, and Austin has abandoned that duty. The legislature will take this issue up next session, but in the meantime, the Texas Department of Public Safety will stand in the gap to protect our capital city."

Baltimore, MD voted to defund their police budget by $22 million dollars after a contentious budget hearing this summer. In an article in the Baltimore Sun, City Council President Brandon Scott says the budget cuts are a signal of what’s to come.

“I am proud to lead a City Council that took the first step to responsibly reduce Baltimore’s budget dependence on policing,” said Scott, who is the Democratic nominee for mayor. “This is just the beginning, and I intend to continue leading this process to redirect our public dollars and reimagine public safety in Baltimore.”

Dallas, Texas denies defunding the police budget even though they voted 13-2 on Sep. 9 to cut $7 million from the upcoming police overtime budget. According to NBCDFW, of that $7 million, $1.6 million would be shifted to hiring 42 police civilians, and switch that many sworn officers from inside jobs to patrol duty.

“Six of the 13 members who voted for the change Wednesday held a press conference afterward to praise their work. “All of us have one thing in common. That's protecting the public safety. There are different ways of doing it,” Councilman David Blewett said.”

Denver, CO police department’s budget will be cut $10.9 million dollars but not because of calls to defund the police. According to the Denverite, Denver PD will have less funds for the budget due to the pandemic.

Another article by 9News states, City Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca submitted a proposal to replace the Denver Police Department (DPD) with an unarmed “peace force” that would serve public safety by “proactive means.”

Denver Mayor Hancock called the proposal corrosive and reckless, saying, "So long as I’m mayor, we will not abolish the Denver police department. So long as I'm mayor, we will not erode the capacity of our law enforcement and first responders to keep our communities, neighborhoods, schools, homes in Denver safe."

Hartford, CT Mayor Luke Bronin agreed to cut $1.7 million from the police budget and redirect another $1 million from within the department to fund walk-beats and training, the Hartford Courant reported.

“Bronin says he supports the council’s changes to police spending in light of the national movement to increase police accountability and rethink investments in law enforcement over other community needs. “While I don’t support ‘defunding’ police, I fully support reimagining policing and embracing real reforms – and I believe that our department does, too," Bronin said in a statement.”

Los Angeles, CA- In July, Los Angeles City Council voted to approve budget cuts to the police for $150 million. The Los Angeles Times wrote, “Faced with a grim budget outlook and deluged by demands for reductions in police spending, the council voted 12 to 2 to take the Los Angeles Police Department down to 9,757 officers by next summer — a level of staffing not seen in the city since 2008.”

Milwaukee, WI- The city is making plans to enact a new budget for the city, which could include a $75 million cut to the police. The city plan to reallocate funds from the police department to other departments.

Minneapolis, MN made a bold move in June when they vowed to not only defund but demolish the police in their city. "We committed to dismantling policing as we know it in the city of Minneapolis and to rebuild with our community a new model of public safety that actually keeps our community safe," Lisa Bender told CNN in June.

Their plans as of late however, have seemed to change. According to a survey by Minneapolis Public Radio, when asked if they supported abolishing the police department, no city council members directly answered “yes.” (Read the full results of the survey here.)

While city electives decide how to change their police department into a more “holistic” approach to public safety, they’ve cut their police budget by $1.1 million. In the meantime, we’ll keep an eye on Minneapolis to see what further steps they take towards their previous statements.

New York, NY- In July, the New York Council approved an $88.1 billion budget overnight that included a $1 billion cut from the largest police force in the nation, the NYPD. The enormous cut still wasn’t satisfactory to the defund movement protestors who called it a “betrayal”.

According to an article by Politico, “This is a lie,” said Anthonine Pierre, a spokesperson for Communities United for Police Reform, an umbrella criminal justice organization that has been a leading voice in the defund push in New York. She accused Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson of “using funny math and budget tricks to try to mislead New Yorkers into thinking that they plan to meet the movement's demands for at least $1B in direct cuts.”

Norman, OK- On June 9, a nine-member council voted to back down on their previous plans to increase their police budget by $1.1 million. Instead, they voted to divert $865,000 to “create new community outreach programs and to hire an auditor.”

Oakland, CA- In June, Oakland City Council approved a 2020-21 budget that included $14.6 million cuts to the police department. The following month, they unanimously agreed to form a task force that would work on a plan to reconstruct public safety in Oakland. Their two-year plan includes reducing the police budget by 50% by the summer of 2022.

According to the East Bay Times, “The council created the Reimagining Public Safety Task Force to overhaul public safety in Oakland with the goal to increase community safety through alternatives to 911 calls, and reallocating police funds into programs having to do with housing, health services, jobs, and homelessness.”

Philadelphia, PA- Resulting from calls for defunding the police, Philadelphia City Council approved a preliminary budget which would cut police funds by $14 million. The cuts were made despite prior plans to increase the police budget by $19 million. According to NBC Philadelphia, “ The mayor later pulled back on that proposal after 14 of the city’s 17 council members signed a letter objecting to the funding increase and calling for the city to “recalibrate” budget priorities.

Philadelphia City Council also made it known that another reason for the defunding was due to financial from the pandemic. “The COVID-19 pandemic and unrest in our city and country these last few weeks have magnified the disparities that were glossed over by a booming economy and years of cutting resources from our country’s social safety net,” City Council President Darrell Clarke (D-5th District) said in a statement following Wednesday’s vote.

Portland, OR- In June, the Portland City Council voted to cut the police budget by $15 million. This cut would eliminate 84 positions within the police department. The vote almost didn’t pass since all the commissioners needed to vote yes. According to KGW8, the hold out was due to activists demanding $50 million, and the cuts not “going deep enough.”

Prior to the protests, the police department was on schedule to receive a $3 million increase. In November, another attempt was made to cut an additional $18 million from police and redirect the funds towards the city’s pandemic response. The amendment failed 3-2. We will continue to monitor the situation in Portland.

Salt Lake City, UT- On June 16, the Salt Lake City Council voted unanimously to cut the police budget by $5.3 million. Council member Chris Wharton said in the meeting, “More than $2 million will be reserved until the new committee on racial equity and policing can be formed and make decisions on how money should be allocated. Wharton said other funds will also be moved.

“Another $2.5 million in funding will be for the social worker program. The program will still be housed within the police department but moving funding outside the department allows more time for review and future discussions," he said.

According to KUTV, “council members said some money is being moved from the police budget to the non-departmental budget. That includes money to ensure every officer has a body camera, and money to add technology to cruisers that automatically turns these cameras on when an officer exits the car. It was stated that $687,000 would go toward more body cameras, and $93,000 would go toward the technology to go on police cruisers to turn the cameras on.”

San Francisco, CA- This summer, the mayor announced his plans to cut the police budget by $120 million. In a press conference, the funds would be redirected to address disparities in the black community.

Mayor Breed also placed some of the blame for the budget shortfall on the pandemic. ABC News 7 reported the city is looking for ways to cut costs. To save another $270 million, San Francisco is also asking police and firefighter unions to delay raises for two years. Mayor Breed said delaying raises will help the city avoid cutting services and laying off employees, as 180,000 San Franciscans are already unemployed.

Seattle, WA- Due to a series in clashes and disagreements amongst city leaders, Seattle has had a difficult time deciding on how much to cut from the police budget. At the onset of George Floyd protests this summer, the majority of Seattle City Council members wanted to pass a 50% budget cut to the police. They ultimately opted instead on a much smaller cut, around $3 million dollars that included eliminating around 100 officers out of 1,400.

In November, City Council proposed a series of proposals which could slash the 2021 budget by up to 17% or $70 million. The budget for police in 2020 was $409 million. Mayor Jenny Durkan suggested they cut the budget by 12% not 17%. These are preliminary proposals and the final hearing to determine the budget will take place on November 23.

Washington, D.C.- After weeks of protests, our nation’s capital voted in favor of budget cuts to the Metropolitan Police Department for $15 million. The funds will be diverted to social programs in the city. Fox5DC reports, “The budget for the Metropolitan Police Department is well over $500 million, and after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the calls across the country to reduce the budgets of police departments everywhere — the councilmembers here in the District heard the protestors and acted.”

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