Proposal to shift police funds in Prince George's County

Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks is asking the county council to redirect $20 million from a police budget for a training facility to build a new mental health facility.

The money will not come out of the proposed police operating budget, which is expected to be $371 million for fiscal year 2021, but instead come from a budget for capital projects.

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"This does not decrease the staffing that our community needs because I believe to be safe is a civil rights issue as well but we can do both," said Alsobrooks.

Alsobrooks cited statistics that show 70 percent of people arrested come to the jail intoxicated and 33 percent need mental health treatment, which she says the new facility will better address than a jail.

"To me that is a moral issue," Alsobrooks said.

The proposed budget change represents the kind of thinking amplified by activists asking for police to be defunded.

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Activist Amity Pope says it is a step in the right direction but doesn't go far enough.

"I think that we, and when I say we I mean county government, need to shift the focus from policing to investing in our communities," said Pope.

The county council will have to approve the proposal and so will voters, in the form of a ballot measure in November.