Amid growing calls nationwide to "defund the police" in the wake of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis, California's second largest city is doing the opposite.
The San Diego City Council voted 8-1 late Monday to increase funding for its police department after nearly 10 hours of public comment that included some residents demanding to reduce police funding, NBC 7 San Diego reported.
“This is about systemic, generational issues that we must acknowledge and address, and those won’t be solved overnight with a single budget vote," Mayor Kevin Faulconer told USA TODAY in a statement on Tuesday. "We’re going to keep funding our police department but it won’t be business as usual."
Changes began last week, in fact, when Faulconer banned the use of the carotid restraint by police officers, and the mayor said he is supporting a ballot measure to increase independent oversight of the agency.
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"Now more than ever, we need well-trained officers who understand our communities, so we will continue to invest in hiring and training officers who come from our neighborhoods and look like our diverse city,” Faulconer said.
Councilmember Chris Ward was the lone vote against Faulconer's proposed budget, which included increasing police funding by $27 million to $566 million for the next fiscal year, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
"We need to allocate more funding into rental assistance, small business assistance, we need to put federal dollars to use for the people who need it. I don't think we've gone far enough," Ward said on Twitter.
Council President Pro Tem Barbara Bry said the city did not defund the police because they want to focus on restoring trust. "Which means recruiting more officers committed to this approach, providing them with better training and support, and strengthening community oversight," Bry told NBC 7 in a statement.
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Demonstrators across the country are demanding local officials cut funding from police departments and reallocate those funds into social programs that would help communities of color and marginalized communities. Floyd, a black man, died after a white police officer pinned him under his knee for nearly nine minutes on Memorial Day, spurring national protests against police brutality and racial inequality.
"It’s not just about taking away money from the police, it’s about reinvesting those dollars into black communities," Patrisse Cullors, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, told WBUR.
That's already happening in some places.
In Minneapolis, a veto-proof majority of the city council pledged to dismantle its police department and create a new system of public safety.
"It is clear that our system of policing is not keeping our communities safe," council President Lisa Bender said. "Our efforts at incremental reform have failed, period."
In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti said he would use $250 million from his proposed city budget for youth jobs, health initiatives and trauma healing centers – including up to $150 million from the police, The Los Angeles Times reported.
In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio said he would move funding from the police department to youth initiatives and social services. However, de Blasio did not reveal how much would be taken from the agency, The New York Times reported.
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Instead of pulling funds from the police department, the San Diego council created a new city Office of Race and Equity and increased its rent relief fund from $5 million to $15.1 million, The Union-Tribune reported.
The office will "help eliminate barriers as it relates to city contracting, city policies and developing stronger relationships with the community,” according to Faulconer.
Monday's council meeting included more than 400 calls, with some demanding a reduction in the city's police funding, the Union-Tribune reported. Others, however, voiced support for police.
Audrey Churchward was one of them. “Please do not listen to the minority who feel the police do more harm to our citizens than good,” she said. “Better screening, better training – but don’t defund them. I am thankful for our police. A majority of them have done more good than evil.”
Amanda Chisholm contended that police did not need additional funding. Instead, she said, “We need funding taken from the police department and given directly to people living in slum conditions."
Huy Tran called the budget proposal "immoral."
"Millions of people are losing their jobs and you're funding the police?'' said Tran.
Contributing: Ryan W. Miller, USA TODAY; The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: San Diego increases police budget by $27M amid 'defund' calls