police reform

Hartford City, Police Leaders Argue Defunding Police Won't Create Systemic Change

Protesters are calling for a 25% reduction in the Hartford Police Department budget to divert funding to community programs.

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“We can’t continue to finance a group of people that are not doing their job,” Marcus Washburn said.

As Hartford City Council members virtually hammered out the 2021 budget, protesters like Marcus Washburn called to defund Hartford Police.

“I do believe that there needs to be some type of protection for people but if law enforcement can’t do the job then what are we supposed to do?" Washburn asked.

Under Mayor Luke Bronin’s proposed 2021 budget, $45.9 million, a little over 8% of the city’s $567 million budget would go to police.

It’s a 1.5 % decrease in police funding from last year.

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Protesters gather at Hartford City Hall calling to defund the police and invest in community programs in the city. June 10, 2020.

Wednesday council members from the Working Families Party called for a 25% decrease for Hartford Police.

“I don’t believe less cops equals less crime,” Anthony Rinaldi, president of the Hartford Police Union said.

Rinaldi says slashing the police budget would mean dramatic cuts to its community-oriented police plan and expensive police training that includes diversity education.

Rinaldi says right now the department has its highest number of minority officers, 42%, in at least a decade. He says cuts would hamper their recruitment efforts which include bringing on more minority police officers.  

“If we have to lay these officers off, these are our new officers, these are the officers that would get laid off, so all those recruiting efforts and all that hard work will be thrown out the window,” Rinaldi said.

Under the proposed 25% budget cut, Bronin says at least 100 officer positions would be eliminated and would not create systemic change.

“It would leave you scrambling from call to call and unable to provide the kind of community policing that our community has asked for,” Bronin said.

Bronin points to more funding from the state and federal levels to underserved communities like Hartford and reforms to the civilian police review board.

“Get a full-time investigative staff to give it subpoena power and there’s a lot more beyond that that we’ve got to do together,” Bronin said.

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