The San Diego City Council on Monday rejected calls for cutting the police budget and increased funding for the city’s police force.
“Defund this city-sanctioned militia that is terrorizing black people,” resident Breana Clark told the council during a public hearing on the budget that stretched out over 12 hours, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune. Residents could call in to make their voices heard, and more than 400 did so.
“We need resources in our communities, not these thugs wearing a badge. You have blood on your hands. Get busy,” she said.
Cutting funding to police departments has been high on the list of demands from protesters in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has said he will cut the police budget, but has not said how big the cut will be. In Minneapolis, some city council members are calling for the abolition of the police department.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer proposed giving the police a $27 million budget increase to $566 million to cover already approved raises and costs incurred as a result of lockdowns.
The vote on the budget was 8-1.
Council President Pro Tem Barbara Bry said the increase in the police budget is designed to “help restore trust,” KNSD reported.
“We did not defund the San Diego Police Department because, to help restore trust in our police department, we need to focus more on neighborhood policing which means recruiting more officers committed to this approach, providing them with better training and support, and strengthening community oversight,” she said in a written statement.
“That is why I continue to support the ballot measure for a community-led independent police review board with subpoena power,” the statement continued.
“As Chair of the Budget Committee, I will request regular expenditure updates, and I am asking that the Council host public discussion about implementation of the Campaign Zero policies.”
During the hearing, resident Audrey Churchward defended the increase.
“Please do not listen to the minority who feel the police do more harm to our citizens than good. Better screening, better training — but don’t de-fund them. I am thankful for our police. A majority of them have done more good than evil,” she said.
But her voice was drowned out by critics of the police. More than 4,o00 city residents emailed City Hall, most calling for funding to be taken away from the police. Many called for the police budget to be cut by $100 million.
“The police do not need more funding,” resident Adam Woodnut said. “These funds should instead be reallocated to addressing issues such as poverty, homelessness, mental health and the well-being of our communities of color.”
Resident Olivia Benice said cutting the police budget would increase public safety.
“This budget would be better spent investing in social service infrastructure, to improve quality of life in this city,” she said. “Police should not be the jack-of-all-trades of societal aid — there need to be specialized, dedicated teams for different types of responses to emergency calls.”
Amanda Chisholm said San Diego needs better housing more than it needs the police.
“The already over-militarized, over-policed city of San Diego does not need additional funding directed to the Police Department,” she said.
“We need funding taken from the Police Department and given directly to people living in slum conditions.”
To address concerns voiced by residents, the council funded a new city Office on Race and Equity, with a $1 million budget for staff and $3 million budget for programming, and increased rent relief funding to $15.1 million.
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