Tucson council passes tentative budget amid calls to defund police

Tucson council approves tentative budget

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Members of the Tucson City Council on Tuesday night, June 30, passed a tentative budget for Fiscal Year 2021, which officially starts Wednesday, July 1, 2020.

The meeting was a bit more controversial than previous budget talks following the release of Tucson police body-cam video detailing the in-custody death of Carlos “Adrian” Ingram-Lopez.

“[The video] was very disturbing. The family could not view the video until Wednesday morning, and I just could not sit on Tuesday’s scheduled council meeting [on June 23] thinking and knowing of the tragedy that had happened,” Tucson Mayor Regina Romero said.

So, the meeting was moved to June 30 with a new agenda item.

“We need a new framework on how we provide community safety,” Romero said.

She suggested the following:

  • Immediate notification of Mayor & Council and the community of all in-custody deaths
  • Implementing a Community Safety Pilot Program
  • Making adjustments to the Independent Police Auditor position
  • Analyzing the ‘Use of Force Review Board’ and ‘Community Police Advisory Review Board’
  • Tracking incidents and cases separately from TPD
  • Hiring a consultant to expand community engagement
  • Providing listening sessions for the community and using the input to guide policy

“This item is an initiation of a conversation that I want our community to help us lead on,” Romero said.

The budget designates funds to hire eight additional social workers.

“The total amount for the tentative budget is $1.7 billion,” said Joyce Garland, the C.F.O. and Assistant City Manager of Tucson.

The tentative budget sets aside $71 million for the disaster relief fund (what’s left of the $95 million the city received from the CARES Act).

Despite some calls to defund the police, the council also designated $166 million to the Tucson Police Department, which accounts for about a third of the general fund. It is also a roughly $2 million increase from last year’s allocation. The city previously committed to hiring of 20 new police officers and 10 community service officers.

During Tuesday’s meeting, residents made their positions known.

“The police have made it clear they don’t represent the people of Tucson,” said one person.

“It is time we allocate resources to train more qualified response groups,” said another.

“I am against defunding the police … monetary cuts will certainly result in fewer officers, less training and, ultimately, longer police response times,” said a third person.

“We are no longer suggesting you fix the budget; we are demanding it,” said a fourth.

KOLD News 13 reached out the Tucson Police Department for comment and have not heard back yet.

Tuesday’s vote basically sets a cap on funding, with the final budget adoption set for July 21.

Copyright 2020 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.