City Council members say RPD budget reduction is ‘just the beginning’ of police reform

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Rochester Police Department will be losing $3.6 million after Rochester City Council passed its budget Tuesday night. Only one council member voted against it.

On top of the $3.6 million, the budget fully funds the Police Accountability Board, cuts the incoming Rochester police class by half, and reallocates money from special events to the recreation department.

Mary Lupien is the one council member that voted no. She said this is a good start it’s but not enough.

“To me the cuts didn’t represent the clear commitment that the community is looking for,” Lupien said.

She said we need to cut more officers from the RPD.

“If the goal is to reallocate or divert non-violent calls from the police department, that means that we need less police and a three percent cut isn’t going to do that.”

A community policing task force is also being formed using the money left over from cutting half the recruits. Council Vice President Willie Lightfoot voted yes on the budget. To those asking to cut 50% of the police budget, he said that’s not the answer to this problem.

“We have no data attached to that number there is no plan attached to that number. The City of Rochester does not do social services. So people are asking us to take money, their taxpayer dollars or residents of this city’s taxpayer dollars, and reallocate that to social services; mental health, school district. These are things that the City of Rochester does not do,” Lightfoot said.

Council Member Mailk Evans also voted yes. He also said cutting the police budget isn’t everything and said there’s a lot more to be talked about.

“I think we need to talk about investments on the front end, when someone starts talking about police that’s more after the fact. We need to look at what kind of investments need to be made to ensure that people minimize their interactions with the police in the first place,” Evans said.

Lupien also said we need to invest in solutions that get to the root of the issue.

“The community is reviewing the role of police in this community and shifting their responsibilities to people who are really trained to respond to many of the incidents in Rochester, who have the training, the mental health training, or the drug abuse triaging, or trauma training, or even mediation to respond to these situations that don’t require somebody with a gun to respond,” Lupien said.

All three council members said this budget is just the beginning. Although different council members might have different ideas, all three said they’re committed to continuing police reform in the community.

Lupien said City Council can amend the budget again at any time.

Full 2020-21 budget:

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