Despite Calls To Defund Phoenix Police, Council Adopts Budget
Calls to defund Phoenix police failed to move the Phoenix City Council on Wednesday. By a 6-3 vote, leaders adopted an annual operating budget with more than 40% of the general fund going to police.
The department is set to get more than $700 million over the next fiscal year. Many people requested the council take some of the money from police and use it to hire social workers and mental health professionals and support community initiatives like affordable housing and childcare programs.
Council member Carlos Garcia who successfully pushed the council to fund a new police oversight office and civilian review board said the department is out of control and gave examples of financial settlements the city has paid over police misconduct.
“There are no bad apples and we need to get away from that,” he said.”Policing in this country is now a rotten barrel and our department is one of the most rotten. This is a fact and we must not be defensive about it or make it as if we're taking personal shots at our officers or our leadership for them.”
Other council members spoke in support of police including Thelda Williams whose husband and son were officers. She said several changes have been made over the last year and Phoenix should be a model for the nation.
“They do the very best they can, they’re not all perfect, but I really truly believe that they do the best that circumstances allow,” she said.
While the budget will take effect July 1 it could change as Phoenix makes adjustments based on the recession and lower sales tax collections and other decreased revenue.