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Dallas Budget Proposal Does Not Call For Police Department Cuts

dallas_police_car.jpg
Tony Gutierrez
/
Associated Press
A Dallas police vehicle sits at the entrance of the drive through coronavirus testing location indicating the site is closed for the day in Dallas.

The proposed budget for the city of Dallas does not include cuts to the police department. The plan does include funding new programs and infrastructure improvements that aim to reduce inequality in the city.

After nationwide protests over police killings of Black people, activists and several Dallas City Council members have called for the city to shift law enforcement funding to other services.

At a meeting with reporters last week, City Manager T.C. Broadnax said the plan was never to defund the police.

"It was really about speaking to, let's not pour resources only into law enforcement. Let's pour and spend resources outside of law enforcement on alternative ways to get at root cause-related matters,” he said. 

His budget plan calls for expanding some programs and creating new ones to tackle some of the issues that activists want cities to address.

One program that could get a boost is called RIGHT Care, which pairs police with mental health workers and paramedics as they respond to people in distress. It's an attempt to reduce unnecessary interactions between citizens and police.

In June, 10 out of 15 council members sent Broadnax letters asking him to prepare spending options that focus more on initiatives other than public safety. Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson told Fox 4 News in June that he expected to have “a robust conversation” come the time of the budget to discuss the city’s spending on the police department. 

At a June council meeting, council members and citizens proposed ideas from funding mixed-income housing to clearing a 70,000-ton pile of garbage nicknamed "Shingle Mountain." One of the most common proposals from commenters was a suggestion to divert funds away from the police department.

"The current proposed budget allocates 60% of its funds to public safety, with 31% of [those funds] specifically going to the police. Totaling $542 million," Kellie Barrett said. "Meanwhile, 23% of children in Dallas County are food insecure."

The city’s budget plan also calls for street and sidewalk improvements in underserved neighborhoods. Broadnax says the city is pursuing greater equity in the services delivered to residents.

City officials said the economic picture is tough, but that while sales tax revenues are down, property values are expected to remain strong — and officials don't anticipate widespread layoffs.

At a meeting Tuesday, several council members said they're eager to hear feedback from residents at a series of virtual town halls. Those meetings begin Thursday evening and run through Aug. 27. Council members are likely to vote on the budget next month.

KERA's Elizabeth Myong and Syeda Hasan contributed to this report.

Got a tip? Email Miranda Suarez at msuarez@kera.org. You can follow Miranda on Twitter @MirandaRSuarez.

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