Thursday, June 04, 2020

Although It Crushed Tax Revenues: Controlavirus Did Not Bring About Any Cuts In Police Funding


fastcompany |  As images from protests against police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death have spread around the country, a key demand from protesters has been the defunding of city police departments: that cutting the money a city spends on police would, in fact, make communities safer. They’ve pointed to the tactical gear and equipment that the police have been pictured using as evidence that cities spend far too much money on their law enforcement, at the expense of other agencies that often lack funds to offer basic services to residents.
This is an apt time to be making that demand, as cities are in the process of figuring out next year’s budgets. But despite the fact that every U.S city is being forced to make drastic cuts to existing programs in the face of a stunning loss of tax revenue from closed businesses during the  COVID-19 pandemic, one area of city government is seeing virtually no cuts at all: police departments.

Under New York mayor Bill de Blasio’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2021, the NYPD—which currently has a budget of $6 billion—would see a cut of just $23.8 million, or 0.39%, Gothamist reported. In contrast, the Department of Education would have its budget cut by $827 million—3% of its overall funding. The Department of Youth and Community Development, which funds after-school programs, literacy services, and summer youth work programs, would lose 32% of its budget.

In a letter to the mayor sent May 30, New York City Council Speaker Cory Johnson and other council members called for every city agency to identify meaningful savings they could make, so the nearly $9 billion budget gap is made up with 5-7% cuts from each department, rather than disproportionately larger cuts for a few agencies. “No proposed cut should be one that would weaken the social safety net or hurt vulnerable New Yorkers,” they wrote. An April letter sent to de Blasio from the Communities United for Police Reform pointed out that in 2019, when the city allocated $6 billion to the NYPD, it allocated just $2.1 billion to homeless services, $1.4 billion to housing, preservation, and development, and $1.9 billion to the health department.

In Los Angeles, the LAPD budget is slated to actually increase by $123 million. The proposed 2020-2021 spending includes nearly $41 million in bonuses for officers who have college degrees, “even as thousands of other city employees face pay cuts amid a financial crisis at City Hall,” the Los Angeles Times reports, along with pay raises for officers. Overall, the current plan increases LAPD’s budget by 7.1%, while it cuts the budget for the Housing and Community Investment Department, which, per the Times, “sends inspectors to look for violations at apartment buildings,” by 9.4%.
LAPD will receive just under 54% of Los Angeles’s total general fund—money not raised or collected for special purposes such as voter-passed measures—which allocates $1.8 billion to the agency. When you include pensions and retirement, building services, liability claims, and “other department related costs,” though, the total price tag of the police department tops $3 billion.