WASHINGTON (FOX 5 DC) - The D.C. Council's Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety voted unanimously Thursday in favor of a budget that defunds the Metropolitan Police Department by more than $15 million — a vote that comes after weeks of protests calling for police reform. The funds will instead be diverted to social programs in the city.
The committee's vote on the budget for the police department came after weeks of input from citizens and others. It now diverts that more than $15 million to social programs like violence interruption.
Still, it wasn't enough for some groups who wanted to see a whole lot more come out of the budget for the police.
Last night, a small group of protestors showed up at Councilmember Charles Allen's Capitol Hill home to call for more.
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Here is what Allen, who is the chairman of the committee, had to say today in his opening remarks:
"The Council, like all Americans, is grappling with undoing centuries of systemic racism and its permutations throughout our society. There will be no single law or no single budget that could possibly provide a single remedy this is an iterative process just like it is to get to where we are today, but moderate change is unacceptable. This budget reflects significant action and aligns with other sweeping reforms this committee has undertaken but it is also one piece of a movement to which everyone in government, including among executive branch agencies, must make aware of the change."
The budget for the Metropolitan Police Department is well over $500 million, and after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the calls across the country to reduce the budgets of police departments everywhere — the councilmembers here in the District heard the protestors and acted.
The money taken from the budget will now be diverted to social programs that include a director for gun violence prevention who will work with the deputy mayor for public safety. Funds will also be going to affordable housing and a shelter for victims of domestic violence.
In recent weeks, the council voted unanimously on an emergency police reform bill that makes sweeping changes to the way D.C. police officers will be doing their jobs. It's a bill the D.C. Police Union said would lead to a rise in crime and waves of officers leaving the force.
RELATED: DC Council passes emergency police reform bill
Still, committee member Mary Cheh said today, "we need responsible reinvestment and a re-imagining of what police do".
The committee also voted unanimously to retroactively make the job of chief of police a four-year term. When it's over, the mayor would be able to renominate the chief if she so chooses. Right now, Chief Peter Newsham is working without a contract.
FOX 5's Paul Wagner also asked the mayor today what she thought of the budget and she declined to comment saying she had not see the committee's budget and learned not to comment on something she has not seen.