Questions Raised Over Proposed Increase In San Diego Police Budget
The San Diego City Council held a hearing Friday on Mayor Todd Gloria’s proposal to increase the San Diego Police Department budget by $19 million in the upcoming fiscal year.
The Council’s review of Mayor Gloria’s budget proposal comes almost a year after people took to the streets in San Diego and across the nation to protest police violence. Since then, many have called for defunding the police and reallocating money to mental health and other community services. Those voices were heard at Friday’s meeting.
“We the people want services that will bring positive quality of life not policing,” said one community member who addressed the City Council. “You cannot acknowledge the harm police have done to our communities and talk about alternative policing on one hand while proposing an increase in their funding on the other. We need you to act and decrease the police budget.”
Approximately $15 million of the $19 million increase would go to officer pensions. Another $4.5 million would go to utilities and vehicle maintenance. Some local residents spoke in support of the police department and expressed concerns that less funding for police will mean less safe communities. San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit noted the rise in crime this year.
“We are seeing an increase in violent crime when you look at the first four months,” Nisleit said. “We’ve seen not only an increase in homicides, we’ve seen an increase in nonfatal assaults to include gun assaults. We’ve seen an uptick of nonfatal shootings of 50%”
Most residents who spoke on Friday, however, said having more officers will only harm communities of color. Councilmembers noted the frayed relationship between law enforcement and these communities.
“We need to do it differently,” Councilmember Monica Montgomery Steppe said. “There is definitely a continued need for our department. There’s also a need for other types of investments in our communities.”
The City Council has until June to approve the budget.