defund the policeJoshua Roberts/Reuters

Elected officials are beginning to address growing calls for police reform.
Some Americans want cities to cut police budgets and use the money for social programs.
Using standardized data from the The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, Business Insider looked at eight different categories on which cities spend taxpayer money.
We found that fire protection, parks and recreation, and health programs typically had the lowest spending per person in major cities like San Francisco and Boston.
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The recent killings of Black Americans at the hands of police officers have increased the calls to reform or outright defund police departments.

As part of the ongoing conversation, some have asked that taxpayer money be funneled away from police and into underfunded areas. For instance, activist and Black Lives Matter cofounder Alicia Garza told NBC that there needs to be more funding for housing, education, and “quality of life of communities who are over-policed and over-surveilled.”

Because of the calls to defund the police and redistribute the cash to other programs, Business Insider looked at how eight major cities spend taxpayer money and which areas seem to be underfunded.

To do this, we used a database developed by the research nonprofit Lincoln Institute of Land Policy that has revenue and expenditure figures of 150 major cities. Researchers used local government figures from the US Census Bureau’s Annual Survey of State and Local Government Finances to create the database. The institution standardized the metropolitan centers into what they call “Fiscally Standardized Cities” so that those with different government structures and funding from independent governments can be easily compared to one another.

Read on to see how much cities spent per resident on eight different expenses in 2017, the most recent fiscal year for which data available. It is important to note for education spending, we focused on just elementary and secondary school and excluded higher education.

Police spending in Minneapolis was nearly $480 per resident in 2017.
Business Insider/Madison Hoff, data from Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

Spending per resident in health, parks and recreation, public welfare, and fire protection were all less than the police spending per resident in Minneapolis, where George Floyd died last month after a white police officer kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes.

The city is currently working on improving public safety in the city. The Minneapolis City Council unanimously passed a resolution to disband the city police and replace it with a new community-led model. 

The resolution noted that the police budget of $193 million made up 36% of the city’s general fund in 2020, and was more than double the total funding for workforce development, affordable housing, protection of civil rights, and race equity, among other underfunded areas. 

Police spending in Los Angeles was over $750 per resident in 2017.
Business Insider/Madison Hoff, data from Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

Of the eight city expenses we looked at in Los Angeles, police protection was the second program with the largest spending per capita. Spending for housing and community development was nearly $400 per resident, a little over half of police spending per capita.

NBC News’s Tyler Kingkade recently reported about Jane Nguyen, cofounder of activist group Ktown for All, who created a graph highlighting the disproportionate spending in the city’s 2020 fiscal year budget before the death of Floyd. Ktown for All and other Los Angeles activist groups proposed a “People’s Budget” where police spending would only account for 5.7% of spending. The budget also aimed for more money allocated to other social resources, such as mental health.

The graph, according to reporting by Kingkade, is now being used by protesters in the city to highlight the need to defund police.

As protest continue in LA, the Los Angeles City Council voted on Tuesday to cut police spending by $100 million to $150 million, according to ABC News.

Police spending in New York was over $670 per resident in 2017.
Business Insider/Madison Hoff, data from Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

New York City spent the most on education, followed by hospitals and public welfare in 2017.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is looking into ways the city can reform the police department as protesters call for changes, including cutting police funds and using the money for social programs. 

New York Police Commissioner Dermot Shea recently told the Associated Press about some concerns for cutting funding.

“What concerns me is a moment in time and some rash judgments stepping in and taking the place of some well-thought-out conversations about how to cut smartly,” Shea told the Associated Press. 

The Atlantic‘s Social Distance podcast recently invited Alex Vitale, the author of “The End of Policing,” to discuss with Atlantic staff writer James Hamblin and executive producer Katherine Wells whether the police should be defunded.

During the conversation, Wells mentioned that the $6 billion police budget in New York City is currently planned to be cut by $23.8 million. That is about 0.4% of its budget. However, Wells notes that the budget for the Department of Youth and Community Development, which funds services like after-school programs and school-based community centers, is being cut by 32%.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

See Also:

26 high-paying jobs for people who aren’t interested in scienceThe 25 US cities with the lowest cost of livingI live in Camden, where the police department was disbanded and rebuilt. Here’s what you need to know about our police force and how it’s impacted the people who live here.

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