Utah Black Lives Matter: SLC Police Budget Cut A ‘Step In The Right Direction’
Jun 17, 2020, 6:17 PM | Updated: 8:13 pm
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Black Lives Matter organization said the new budget cut for the Salt Lake City Police Department is a step in the right direction, but it was still “not enough.”
The Salt Lake City Council slashed $5.3 million of the department’s $84 million budget on Tuesday, allocating those funds for other police services. Those include new body cameras, the police social work program and more training.
“This feels good. I celebrate that, absolutely,” said Lex Scott, founder of Black Lives Matter in Utah. “It’s not enough, but it’s a good start. It basically means reallocating funds where they are really needed. The police department has used the city council as their piggy bank forever.”
Protesters were calling for a $30 million dollar cut in the police budget, but Chief Mike Brown said that would have shattered the department.
“The $30 million, to put it into perspective, was to the tune of 273 officers. That would decimate the police department. That would not allow us to do any of the things we need to do to keep people safe, to investigate crimes and last, but not least, to build relationships,” he said.
The chief said he’s happy about getting new body cameras, and putting more money towards social work and training.
“You always have to be looking to the future and how you can better serve, and to do that you need to listen, you need to learn, and then you need to act, so that you can effectuate change,” Brown said.
He admitted the tone of the country against officers has effected moral at the police department. He said five officers have recently stepped down. One retired and four resigned. Two of them are of color, Brown said.
“It’s a difficult time. Probably the most difficult time I’ve ever seen in law enforcement, and it’s very, very hard,” he said.
Scott believes getting rid of the police department altogether and going with community policing is the answer to solving the problem long term.
“I feel like the black and brown community would be safer without police,” she said. “A lot of black and brown people do not call the police. When you call the police, they show up and they hurt you, they arrest you.”
But for now, she said it’s one step at a time.
“My number one focus right now is police reform,” said Scott. “I celebrate the defunding of police, but I am pushing for them to be held accountable for their actions.”