Austin City Council approves $150M in cuts to police department
City council members in Austin, Texas, approved a new budget Thursday slashing nearly $150 million from the city’s police force.
The council approved the $4.2 billion budget with the cuts to law enforcement funding following months of calls and petitions from community members to stand against police brutality, the Austin American-Statesman reported.
On Wednesday, more than 200 residents signed up to speak while the council convened, voicing support for police budget cuts. Some urged for more significant reductions.
The Austin City Council’s decision will divide the cuts into separate reinvestments, taking nearly $21.5 million for immediate investments from three upcoming cadet classes and reducing overtime costs by around $3 million.
Further reductions include cutting $3 million from commodities and contractuals, $1 million from records management and over $220,000 from license plate readers and vacancies in the police department’s mounted patrol.
The other $128.8 million will be moved into separate transitional funds, one for removing civilian functions of the department and another for funding alternative forms of public safety, such as social worker involvements.
The non-immediate funding cuts will be shifted over the next year, according to the city council.
City Manager Spencer Cronk will convene with council members to develop a community engagement plan that would enter a budget amendment process by March.
In the meantime, the city council plans to maintain public safety committee meetings to deliberate specifics about when the funds will be reallocated for future community development programs.
Cities throughout the U.S. have voted on reforms for defunding the police in the fallout over the death of George Floyd, who died in the custody of Minneapolis police earlier this summer, sparking unrest and protest around the nation.
Several U.S. cities, including San Leandro, Calif., Portland, Ore., and New York City, have voted to decrease funding for law enforcement programs in exchange for funding social services that seek to replace armed police officers with trained deescalation responders.
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