Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson slammed the Dallas City Council for voting to cut $7 million from the city police department’s budget amid spiking crime rates in the city.
The Dallas City Council voted on Wednesday to cut the money from the police department’s fund dedicated to overtime pay. The cut comprised 25% of the department’s overtime budget. The decision came after Black Lives Matter protesters called on elected officials to defund the police department.
“The city of Dallas is facing a serious uptick in violent crime, and it’s not just a few days or weeks or months in the making. We’re talking about a couple of years now of steadily increasing aggravated assaults, steadily increasing homicide and steadily increasing domestic violence,” Johnson said, according to The Dallas Morning News.
“I don’t believe, and neither do the people of Dallas … that now is the right time to be defunding the police, or cutting funding to the police to send a message or anything like that,” he continued.
Dallas is one of many U.S. cities that have been rocked by Black Lives Matter riots in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25. Floyd died in police custody after an officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes. An autopsy of Floyd’s body found a potentially lethal cocktail of fentanyl and methamphetamines in his system.
A significant number of Black Lives Matter activists have launched a movement to “Defund the Police” and redirect money from law enforcement to social programs that target minority and disadvantaged communities.
“I think we need to have a very serious conversation about these topics, and I’ll say this. When I first heard the phrase to defund the police several months ago, I very genuinely and earnestly asked the question what does that mean, and I was actually met with some ridicule and met with some derision and accused of pretending not to know,” Johnson said. “People are all over the place on what it means.”
Dallas City Council member Carolyn King Arnold issued a response to Johnson’s criticism on Saturday, defending the council’s decision and claiming that the council’s action should be viewed as a “reinvestment” in disadvantaged communities.
“You may have heard the City Council voted to defund the Dallas Police Department,” Arnold said, according to NBC Dallas. “That’s not true! Twelve of my colleagues and I voted to reprogram $7 million in police overtime pay in order to create programs and outreach efforts that will help reduce neighborhood crime rates.”
“The hope is to be able to tell you more about these programs that represent ‘reinvestment’ into our neighborhoods,” Arnold said. “The City can’t arrest its way out of the poverty and desperation issues that often lead to crime. We can use these dollars to harness the community’s powers in crime prevention.”
Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall announced her intention to retire from the force on Wednesday, the same day as the council’s vote to cut the police department’s overtime budget. She intended to leave by Nov. 4 but agreed to remain in the position until the end of the year at a request from the Dallas city manager.