It might not be happening the way activists imagined, but calls to defund the police are becoming a reality as law enforcement agencies face the dual pressures of coronavirus-related budget shortfalls and nationwide protests.
According to a new survey by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), police agencies across the country could be facing some of the deepest cuts in a decade, even worse than during the Great Recession.
Roughly half of the 258 police agencies surveyed reported their funding has been cut or they expect it to be cut this year. Most said they are seeing reductions of 5-10% of their budgets. Others reported cuts exceeding 15%. […]
According to PERF respondents, the resources to implement those reforms are evaporating. Police agencies reported the deepest cuts in spending on equipment, personnel and training. That will make it more difficult to attract and hire new officers, purchase equipment like body cameras and train officers in de-escalation and implicit bias.
* USA Today…
Chuck Wexler, executive director of the D.C.-based think tank that authored the report, said police operations have not confronted such a threat since the financial crisis of 2008, when operations and force numbers were cut dramatically to account for the steep decline in available public funds. […]
Even smaller cities facing less pressure from the social justice movement have not been able to escape an unfolding financial crisis driven by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Steamboat Springs, a ski-resort town in northwest Colorado largely supported by tourism-driven sales tax dollars, the police department is cutting its budget by 28% or nearly $1.5 million. It means that vacant positions will go unfilled and civilian employees are taking a 10% pay cut, Police Chief Cory Christensen said.
The police department’s training and recruiting budgets already have been zeroed out.
If Congress doesn’t act, these cuts are only going to get worse. The earlier package does not allow the federal money to replace lost revenues. It can only be spent on unanticipated COVID-related expenses.