SALT LAKE CITY – The Salt Lake City council meeting on Tuesday stretched out into the early morning on Wednesday after hundreds of people demanded a $30 million cut to the police department budget.
Many also wanted that money redirected to social workers, the homeless, low-income housing, public transportation, and education, which attendees argued would go farther to solve problems.
The Salt Lake City Council is looking to increase its police department budget to $84.4 million.
Community push back over Salt Lake police budget increase
The proposed budget increase did not sit well with Henry Glesheen, who is also upset about officer-involved shootings and Saturday’s protest that turned violent.
“What will [the budget increase] buy us? More military hardware, more less-lethal munitions, and more police killings. Meanwhile, our city’s housing crisis continues to escalate and our public transit continues to be inadequate to the needs of Salt Lake City’s citizens,” Glesheen said.
Michael-Kennedy Yoon was also upset after he said he saw an officer cussing out a 15-year-old girl who was protesting on Saturday.
“I used to believe police officers were heroes. I think that’s been demonstrated to me severely over the last week that that’s not true. If you want to become a hero, you become an EMT, you become a firefighter, you become a school teacher, you do not become a police officer. If you want to become a bully, you become a police officer. I’m morally opposed to funding a bully,” Kennedy-Yoon said.
Response from the Salt Lake City Council
Councilmember Chris Wharton said the bump in budget would go towards additional training for officers and an already agreed-upon salary increase. He also said they would not be hiring anyone else other than another victim advocate.
Despite several council members displaying “Black Lives Matter” signs in their backgrounds on the Webex call, several people called the citywide curfew and other actions by the council racist and felt they had been unfairly targeting protesters.
Not all comments were negative towards the council.
George Chapman, who supports more police training, said mayors and council members have worked over the past decade to decrease police violence.
“I need to point out, I and most council members go to a lot of community council meetings where…they want more police and more patrols,” Chapman said.
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