Amid Calls to Defund Police, Cities Increase Budgets

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In May, a Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd, prompting a demand from protesters in city after city: Defund the police. After months of demonstrations, that rallying cry hasn’t translated into reality, reports Bloomberg CityLab. While a few major cities like New York and Los Angeles have made large, high profile cuts, more than half actually increased spending or kept it unchanged as a percentage of their discretionary spending, found an analysis of 34 of the largest 50 U.S. cities that have finalized 2021 budgets. As a group, the difference between police spending as a share of the general funds fell less than one percent from last year. The Indianapolis city council is poised to vote on an increase to its police budget in the coming weeks.

New York City made the largest cut to police spending in dollar terms. The reduction came as NYC slashed its total budget as well. Austin made the most substantial reduction to general fund police spending in percentage terms even as the general fund budget was unchanged. For some cities, like Charlotte, N.C., calls to reduce police spending came too late in the budget process to have any impact on the final outcome. For others, like San Antonio, increases were inevitable because of union negotiations. “We have not defunded anything in this moment,” said Oluchi Omeoga of Minneapolis’s Black Visions Collective, which is working to reimagine policing. “As much as we’ve said that we’ve defunded, as much as there has been a national movement to defund, the police have the same budget that they had three months ago.” President Donald Trump is attempting to paint the 2020 election as a referendum on law and order, by falsely stating Joe Biden wants to get rid of police. Police budgets have been on an upward trajectory for the last decade.

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