HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Hartford’s City Council made major changes to the police department budget in a meeting that lasted into the early morning hours. It happened after protesters gathered in front of City Hall chanting “defund the police.”
The city council apparently heard that message, even though it was a virtual meeting. The result is, the council voted unanimously to cut or change about 6% of police department funding.
In the end, a million dollars was cut from the police budget, more than a million and a half was put in different places within the department. Councilman Nick Lebron says the meeting went well past 1 a.m.
“We re-allocated some funds, and we put a lot of energy and concerted effort into frontline workers and to children and to mental health services,” explained councilman Nick Lebron (D).
It also includes money for the Civilian Police Review Board, anti- bias training, de-escalation, and cultural competency, and dedicating more funding to public works and housing inspections.
The Hartford Police union put out statement pointing out the department is now 40% minority, mostly hired during a recent recruitment push.
“Cutting jobs would decimate minority staffing and undo the years of hard work undertaken by the City and its residents to create a department that reflects the community it serves,” the statement reads, in part.
However, Mayor Luke Bronin (D-Hartford) says that is not going to happen.
“I don’t believe that the action that was taken last night will reduce our staffing,” Bronin said. “I think it allows us to continue to try and build and maintain a department that can do what our community has been asking for.”
Bronin says he is going to be reviewing the budget, possibly making changes. He has about a week and a half until the council holds its final budget vote on June 22.