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24 Sep, 2020 05:44

Dallas lawmakers approve $7mn cut to police overtime budget despite ‘violent crime uptick’ & mayor’s protest

Dallas lawmakers approve $7mn cut to police overtime budget despite ‘violent crime uptick’ & mayor’s protest

The Dallas City Council has voted to slash the overtime budget for the city’s police department by some $7 million, overriding vocal opposition from Democratic Mayor Eric Johnson, who has resisted calls to defund law enforcement.

City lawmakers passed the budget cut in an 11-4 vote on Wednesday evening, taking a sizable portion of the department's total $24 million overtime fund and investing it into other “public safety” efforts, such as better public lighting in crime-ridden areas.

Mayor Johnson has repeatedly opposed the move, labeling the measure “police defunding,” which he said was not the right decision as Dallas faces an “uptick” in violent crime.

“I don’t know how any of us can look at that and say it’s the right time to cut back on police overtime,” Johnson told city council members earlier this month.

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Governor Greg Abbott has taken much the same position, insisting at a recent news conference that cutting the police budget is the “last thing” Dallas should do.

The reallocation of police funds also came under fire from local Republicans, who rallied in front of the Dallas City Hall urging the city to “defend,” rather than defund, law enforcement. The brief protest drew only a small crowd, however, and failed to persuade local lawmakers to abandon the initiative.

Dallas lawmakers have argued that the measure does not, in fact, pull funds from the department, but merely repurposes parts of the existing budget, while others have noted the overall police budget had actually increased.

“The council members are not proposing ‘defunding.’ Rather, they are saying – very simply – reduce the overtime budget. Those two categorizations are significantly and fundamentally different,” said council member Vonciel Jones Hill.

Some netizens have slammed the decision, pointing to ongoing protests around the US over police brutality, which raged on in Dallas even on Wednesday night, as the council voted on the initiative.

“If you want to witness how liberal Democrats can destroy a city, look no further than Dallas,” one outraged commenter wrote on Twitter. “Dallas PD is already 300-1000 police short depending on your sources. We've had Covid, riots and a major tornado. Overtime funds are gone.”

The move found supporters as well – one arguing that with fewer officers working long overtime hours, “job performance will improve,” leading to “better policing end to end,” while another suggested overtime simply “isn’t needed.”

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