City Council members in Omaha, Nebraska, on Tuesday declined to slash funding to the citys police department.
City Council President Chris Jerram, a Democrat, proposed cutting $2 million from the Omaha Police Department and redirecting the money to mental health services.
The cut would have taken a little over 1 percent from the departments $161 million budget.
Most council members spoke out against Jerrams proposal, including Councilman Ben Gray, a Democrat.
“I think this police department has gotten a bad rap,” he said during a meeting. “Were in the midst of a gang war. I need all hands on deck, including every police officer we can get.”
Cutting the budget would be a “knee-jerk reaction,” he said, KETV reported.
Jerram said during the meeting that he hopes activists know about what he did.
“At the end of the day, I hope people understand at least, I heard you, I was willing to introduce this resolution,” he said.
Defunding the police has been pushed by a number of groups in Omaha, including ProBLAC, which is also calling for the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and for-profit prisons. The group says on its website that it is working to create “a black-led intersectional movement in Omaha.”
Police Chief Chief Todd Schmaderer told lawmakers on Tuesday that a cut could mean firing some officers or going without purchasing new police cars.
Councilman Pete Festersen, a Democrat, introduced a different amendment that would draw funds from the citys cash reserves and put it toward mental health services.
“Im sure well hear theres no way they can do this. Its not advisable given all the unknowns for next year. And frankly, that is a concern, but if $2 million is a concern in that respect I think this whole budget is a concern,” Festersen said.
The amendment passed 4-3.
Republican Mayor Jean Stothert told WOWT that she will veto the amendment.
“Going into 2021 in the 2021 budget, with so much uncertainty out there about revenue thats coming into the city, we should never want to take money out of the cash reserve,” the mayor said.
Before the council meeting, Stothert said she would veto any amendment that reduced funding to the police department.
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