DC Council holds hearing on budget, votes to remove police from city schools

The D.C. Council moved to remove police from city schools Tuesday by voting 8 to 5 to disapprove of the city’s school security contract – this is another major step in the wake of nationwide calls for police reform following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. It’s also one of several items voted on today, as the council takes up its first vote on the city's proposed 2021 budget.

First, on the passing of David Grosso’s Amendment – this ends the DC Public School Security contract serviced by the DC Police Department. This will allow the money – part of the some $20 million contract – to go toward other areas of education or behavioral health if Mayor Muriel Bowser approves.

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Council Chairman Phil Mendelson called it “political opportune” for some – Grosso fired back that he’s been working on this long before the George Floyd protests.

The council did approve the 2021 Budget Support Act in the first reading. It will go for a second reading in about two weeks. This was a very long virtual budget vote – that also had to take into account severe revenue losses expected because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mayor Bowser had called on the council to not increase taxes – and expressed concerns about pulling nearly $10 million from the D.C. Police Department.

Mendelson revealed a plan that included tax increases to raise around $37 million.

Even before the voting started – there were protests – Black Lives Matter DC chanted outside of Councilmember Charles Allen’s home Monday night. Today, Ward 8 residents called for an audit before any money is moved from police in the wake of 11-year-old Davon McNeal’s murder.

RELATED: Mother of 11-year-old shot and killed in DC speaks out

Fred Hill, who is also running for the city council, led that protest.

“We already don’t have enough investigators. We don’t have the dollars and the resources to Ward 8 to protect the Ward 8 residents, then I’m concerned even more is going to pull for us and we’re going to be left to fend for ourselves, and we’re very much there right now," said Hill.

The council also approved a second and superseding emergency legislation: “Comprehensive Policing and Justice Reform Second Emergency Amendment Act of 2020” but they tabled Grosso's amendment prohibiting police use of cell-site simulator technology.