The vote comes amid proposals across the country to “defund” police in the wake of the death of George Floyd last month.
Floyd, an unarmed and handcuffed Black man, died after a white Minneapolis police officer held his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. His death has prompted protests against racial injustice, as well as the calls to defund police.
Bronin’s office said the passed budget includes 6 percent of reductions from and reallocations within the police department budget compared with last year and the mayor supports that 6 percent combined reduction and reallocation.
His office said the City Council did not approve an attempt to cut the Police Department budget by 21 percent.
Following is the full statement from Mayor Bronin:
“Cutting nearly a quarter of the police budget overnight would not have been responsible, and it also would not have been transformative – it would have just left us with a hundred fewer officers, no community service officers, no walk beats, and unacceptable response times.
“I support the City Council’s decision to reduce or reallocate six percent of the police budget compared with last year – funding my proposal for a permanent investigative staff for the Civilian Police Review Board, investing in training in implicit bias, de-escalation, and cultural competency, and dedicating more funding to public works and housing inspections.”
“While I don’t support ‘defunding’ police, I fully support reimagining policing and embracing real reforms – and I believe that our department does, too.
“We need our Police Department. Our officers play a critical role in responding to, solving, and preventing serious crime, and the reality is that we have serious crime in our community. But it’s also true that many calls for service are related to issues like mental health, substance abuse, or interpersonal disputes, and that law enforcement officers shouldn’t always be the first ones or the only ones responding – though those situations can often be very dangerous.
“Building a system for responding to those needs in real time, with trained, effective professionals outside of law enforcement won't happen overnight, but it’s a goal that I embrace. That’s one part of the systemic change that I hope we can work on together, with non-profit partners and with the state, in the months ahead.
“And at the same time, we’ll be pushing forward with serious reforms to strengthen accountability, and help ensure that we can always create and maintain a culture within the Hartford Police Department that fully reflects the values of our community – rooted in a relationship of trust and respect.
“In the coming days, I'll be reviewing the remainder of Council's amendments to the proposed budget, but I commend the Council for taking a serious, thoughtful approach to the choices we face together.”