Tucson City Council passes final budget; police fully funded

Tucson Police Funding

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Tucson City Council has passed a final budget for Fiscal Year 2021, which includes full funding for the Tucson Police Department.

Tucson police Chief Chris Magnus said he appreciates the show of support.

“I’m grateful that the City Council continues to support the police department through the 20-21 budget,” Magnus said. “The department looks forward to continuing our work with the community to build trust and strengthen relationships. We are always committed to doing better and serving all our residents to the best of our ability. I believe Tucson has an excellent police department overwhelmingly made up of very dedicated men and women. We are ready to take on the complex challenges that come with public safety in the budget year ahead.”

More than 100 people gathered outside City Hall on Tuesday, July 21, to show officers they’re valued.

“From speaking with law enforcement officers that I know, the morale is down,” said Ross Kaplowitch, a former corrections officer and the vice president of Tucson Back the Blue Line. “We are showing them we support them.”

Several officers drove by the rally with their lights on, acknowledging the efforts of Back the Blue.

A few people calling on the city to defund the police also attended the event, sharing their stance.

“I think we need some kind of community safety institution,” said a protester identified only as Gully. “But I think the police force is so corrupt at this point, it’s almost beyond the point of saving.”

During the hour-long public hearing, many echoed similar concerns.

“I am wholly disappointed and disgusted with this council’s reckless budget allocations in disregard of the voices of the community it’s supposed to represent,” Ryan Whitlatch said.

“It’s exhausting to keep hearing that we need to be convinced that TPD not only needs these funds, they need more funds,” said a woman who only gave her first name, Melanie. “How is it that TPD is so well funded that it decided to waste its resources by patrolling the vigil that was held for Carlos Ingram-Lopez?”

The $1.7 billion budget passed 6-1, with Lane Santa Cruz voting against its final adoption.

$166 million will be spent on the police department, accounting for about a third of the general fund. It’s also a roughly $2 million increase from last year.

“I’m really happy. I am,” Daniel Butierez said. “Thank God! [I’m a business owner], and it’s nice to know there is law enforcement nearby to protect my employees.”

“We can’t have social workers out there when people are getting raped. We’ve got to have police to bring criminals to the courthouse to be tried,” Joseph Henrich said. “Without police officers, the criminals are going to run the streets just like they do in Chicago.”

Kaplowitch says the police department needs more funding to keep up with Tucson’s growing needs.

“I think this is going to be a battle every year,” he said.

“I’m grateful that the City Council continues to support the police department through the 20-21 budget,” said Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus.

“The department looks forward to continuing our work with the community to build trust and strengthen relationships. We are always committed to doing better and serving all our residents to the best of our ability. I believe Tucson has an excellent police department overwhelmingly made up of very dedicated men and women. We are ready to take on the complex challenges that come with public safety in the budget year ahead.”

Along with the budget approval was a property tax increase. It comes out to about an additional $3 for every $100,000 of assessed home value.

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