Alderman José Perez makes proposal to cut MPD’s budget by 10%

NOW: Alderman José Perez makes proposal to cut MPD’s budget by 10%

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – There’s a proposal on the table to cut the Milwaukee Police Department’s budget by 10 percent.

On Monday, June 15, Milwaukee Alderman José Perez introduced a resolution saying it’s time to reform and reinvest.

This is in response to the citizen-led protests that have been taking place for the past several weeks, demanding change.

Perez says he has the support of 10 of his colleagues.

Alderman Perez is calling for the immediate adoption of a resolution directing the city’s budget director to develop a model 2021 budget that reduces the Milwaukee Police Department’s budget by 10 percent.

The budget for the department was nearly $300 million in 2020. 

In a press release, Perez goes on to state that although the Common Council does not set police policy and procedures, it can urge police reform and community reinvestment through the budget process.

"We’ve seen protests in Milwaukee day after day after day, and they’ve demanded that we make certain changes, and that’s what the Council has been very sensitive to, something that I’ve been sensitive to, as I’ve marched in the streets along with these peaceful protesters and this is the culmination – so far – of those demands," said Common Council President Cavalier Johnson. 

In a press releasing announcing his co-sponsorship said, "Let's keep in mind that the 2020 police budget consumes just over 45% of the City's general fund revenues compared to funding for the Milwaukee Public Library (at just under 4%) and the Milwaukee Health Department at just over 2% for the same year."

Milwaukee's Office of Violence and Prevention is part of the Milwaukee Health Department. 

The Milwaukee Police Association believes such a cut won’t be easy.

“It could cut quite a bit," said Dale Bormann, president of the association. "A lot of different places in the department are going to have fewer officers; they’re not going to have as many people patrolling the streets that are going to provide protection for the citizens of Milwaukee.”

The Common Council receives the budget in late September. They then have one month to make changes to a document appropriating over a billion dollars.

“This must be done far in advance so that these proposals can help inform the creation of the mayor’s 2021 proposed executive budget,” says Perez. “It is time for the Common Council to be proactive in the budget process. We can no longer afford to be reactive.”

Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic publicized her proud co-sponsorship of the legislation, saying it’s long overdue for the reappropriation of funds.

Alderman Nik Kovac says he’s also proud to sponsor the legislation, adding “We’re going to need the Fire and Police Commission to be more aggressive about discipline for the department’s rank and file, and to force strategic changes on the department’s leadership.”

This proposal will not decrease the 2021 budget for MPD. Only the 2021 budget, which is adopted in November, can do that.

"It’s a great start," said Amanda Avalos, Senior Civic Engagement Director with Leaders Igniting Transformation or LIT, a youth of color led organization that has called for shifting 25% of the police budget to public health equity efforts. 

"This is something we’ve been asking for for a few years now. The difference now is the air is changing, the public is out here in the streets asking for change, demanding for change, they’re actually demanding right now that cuts are made to the Milwaukee Police Department. People want police out of their communities. They want communities where they're able to thrive and not just survive, and often not even that," she said. 

This matter will be brought up in the June 16 meeting.

CBS 58 reached out to MPD for comment. They released the following statement:

"The Milwaukee Police Department remains committed to best serving the community with the resources it is afforded, including partnering with the various agencies that provide much needed social services. A 10% cut in the police budget, or $29.7 million, is the equivalent of approximately 375 police officers."

Read Alderman Perez's release below: 

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