Amid widespread protests over the killing of George Floyd and calls for defunding police departments throughout the country, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh commented over the weekend that his administration will look into reallocating parts of city law enforcement funding.
When asked during an interview with WCVB’s “On The Record” on Sunday whether Boston should cut its police department’s budget, Walsh answered that he will see whether some funds can be put to use in other areas of the city. The mayor noted there may be an opportunity to reallocate money to police training or “community involvement.”
He noted, though, that cutting law enforcement funding across the board may not be the right move.
“We’re going to have real serious conversations about some of the reforms that we put in place when I became mayor in 2014 and ’15 and see what we can work on,” Walsh said. “I think that just arbitrarily cutting the budget is not the answer.
“I think that we have to really think about, if we’re making cuts and we’re reallocating money into different parts of our budget, what are those programs, and are they going to make a difference?”
In the past, Walsh said, elected officials in Boston have put forward policies after protests, held press conferences and discussed inequities. However, that process is not working anymore, according to him.
“We still have the growing wealth gap that’s getting bigger and bigger, lack of opportunity,” Walsh said. “We still have – obviously, in Minneapolis, we saw a murder of George Floyd by police officers.”
Walsh said systemic change is needed.
Walsh’s statements about shifting around funding in the Boston Police Department come after the Minneapolis City Council announced intentions to dismantle the community’s police department over the weekend.
Nine out of 12 city councilors created a veto-proof supermajority in support of disbanding the Minneapolis Police Department, CNN reported. The city’s mayor, Jacob Frey, was previously booed at a protest last week when he told demonstrators he did not support abolishing the department.
“We are going to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department. And when we’re done, we’re not simply gonna glue it back together. We are going to dramatically rethink how we approach public safety and emergency response,” Minneapolis City Councilor Neremiah Ellison tweeted on June 4.
The Boston City Council may be poised to implement police reforms in the wake of Floyd’s death as well.
City Councilor Michelle Wu filed an order Friday requesting Walsh provide a full inventory of the “militarized” resources the Boston Police Department has. Such pieces of equipment include armored vehicles, assault rifles, submachine guns, sniper rifles, “flash-bang” grenades, grenade launchers and other weapons.
She is also seeking information on how the department deployed rubber bullets, tear gas and other “crowd-control equipment” while monitoring demonstrations in the city from May 25 onward, according to the order.
“Let’s get specific about how to demilitarize Boston Police,” Wu tweeted.
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