ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Rochester City Council will vote on it’s revised 2020-21 budget on Tuesday night. The council is proposing cuts that will make changes to police. Some Black Lives Matter leaders said the proposed cuts aren’t enough, while the police union president said they’re too much.
Black Lives Matter activists are calling to cut the Rochester Police Department’s budget by half.
“We believe that police make neighborhoods more dangerous and they perpetuate harm and violence,” said activist Stanley Martin.
Rochester Police Locust Club president Mike Mazzeo said this isn’t a possibility. He said even if half of RPD’s budget was cut, he doesn’t think other programs could make up for what the city would lose.
City council is proposing cutting police funding by about 3.7%. This includes cutting police overtime from special events which would provide $130,000 to the Department of Recreation for youth services. The council also wants to cut the number of police recruits by half, giving the city an extra $750,000 towards a new community policing task force.
Mazzeo said cutting recruits is his biggest concern.
“It’s becoming more and more difficult for them to hire and people are just not picking law enforcement for a career for the obvious reasons and it’s causing a concern, and then we’re seeing our retirements start to increase significantly,” he said.
Other proposals in the budget include fully funding the Police Accountability Board, removing police from city schools, and taking a closer look at police academy curriculum.
The Police Accountability Board Alliance said this in a statement:
“In the wake of an economic and health calamity, there is no excuse for a $100 million budget to continue to persist for the red when policing is no solution to the endemic shortfalls of a city and society that continually neglect most people’s basic needs and the violence and dysfunction that is the outcome.“
Mazzeo said he’d like to see police stations put back into the city neighborhoods. He said since they were removed years ago, the police-community relations have suffered.