Story at a glance

  • Protests across the country are calling for change after George Floyd was killed during an arrest by Minneapolis police.
  • One of their demands is the demilitarization and defunding of police departments.
  • A number of local and state governments have said they will reconsider their budgets for the upcoming fiscal year.

In protests against police brutality and George Floyd’s death, demonstrators have cried, “defund the police.” The idea isn’t new, but the increased support for cutting police department budgets is. 

While the coronavirus pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the economy and government resources, police departments have largely been spared from proposed cuts in post-pandemic budgets, reported Fast Company, which looked at budget proposals in major cities across the country. In fact, cities including Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Washington, D.C., are considering increasing the budget of their police departments while cutting elsewhere. 


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Reportedly, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) was initially looking at an additional $123 million for the 2020-21 fiscal year, increasing the budget by 7.1 percent, according to the Los Angeles Times. At the same time, the Housing and Community Investment department budget would be cut by 9.4 percent. 

But after nearly a week of protests, officials are now considering $100 million to $150 million in cuts from the city's police budget, the Times reports. Mayor Eric Garcetti said the city would “identify $250 million in cuts so we can invest in jobs, in health, in education and in healing,” the Times reported. 

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Members of the city council also introduced a motion asking the mayor to identify where those cuts could be made and calling on city officials to look into where those funds could be reinvested. Local lawmakers in other cities, including New York and Washington, are also considering similar actions. 

Plans to defund the police center around redirecting functions that local police officers typically execute, including responding to individuals in distress, to more specialized departments. At least 1 in every 4 people killed by police has a serious mental illness, according to a report by the Treatment Advocacy Center. Instead, advocates of defunding police departments suggest that people trained to understand serious mental health illnesses would be deployed instead of police to handle and deescalate such situations. 

Some police unions and other members of the law enforcement, however, disagree, saying police officers need more resources and training – not less. But research shows that additional training isn’t always successful. In 2014, Minneapolis was one of six cities to pilot the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice, a million-dollar program under the Obama administration. But in a study on June 3, the New York Times reported Minneapolis police use force against black people at seven times the rate of white people. 


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Published on Jun 04, 2020