A leading business group in Baltimore is insisting the City Council not to reduce the Police Department budget, claiming a reduced spending plan during a crime surge would put the public in danger.
Public safety is elected officials’ first responsibility, said CEO and president of the Greater Baltimore Committee, Donald C. Fry in a letter to the council.
“Law enforcement efforts and public safety are at a crisis point in Baltimore City, Fry wrote. “Now is not the time to risk the health and welfare of our citizens who all too frequently succumb to a small contingent of citizens wreaking havoc in Baltimore’s neighborhoods.”Increasing education spending is on the top of many Baltimore politicians’ agenda. To achieve that purpose, the City Council is looking to cut $13 million, which will mostly come from the police budget.
To help close a $130 million budget shortfall, the school district will lay off nearly 300 employees. While council members encouraged schools officials to avert layoffs, but CEO Sonja Santelises said that it was too late.
Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young and other members want to increase spending on youth and community programs, which rely on primarily on city funding to assist adults and children in Baltimore.
Mayor Catherine Pugh’s proposed budget includes $497 million for the Police Department. However, the funding is not enough to support many of its current services. The department’s criminal investigation and Foxtrot helicopter units are in danger of being cut back.
Fry said even that level of funding could “severely hamper law enforcement strategies and services at a time when we need renewed efforts.”
Fry wrote the Greater Baltimore Committee shared the view “that the city should be investing more in our city’s children than in law enforcement.”
On Tuesday, Chairman of the budget committee, Councilman Eric T. Costello, said the 2017 budget had a $13 million surplus that could be utilized to fund youth programs and schools without needing to cut the police budget.
Only the Mayor’s office has the power to reassign money in the budget.