A year after calls to “defund the police” swept through city councils across the United States, municipal police departments are seeing local officials support funding increases to combat rising crime rates and bring on new recruits to replace officers who quit amid last year’s wave of civil rights protests.
According to a report in The New York Times, police departments across the country are getting back funds that were cut during the anti-policing backlash that followed the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.
In one such city – Dallas, Texas – the city council recently reversed funding cuts that targeted overtime pay for officers as well as recruitment and training efforts.
The new effort to increase police funding comes after years of strained relations between the city’s police department and the Black community, including the 2018 murder of a Black man, Botham Jean, who was shot by an off-duty police officer who had entered his apartment, believing it to be her own.
Two years before that, nearly 400 officers left the force over pension issues, and the department lost five more to a sniper who had targeted police during racial justice protests.
The city’s mayor, Eric Johnson, opposed the reductions in police funding last year and has defended the reversals as necessary to maintain an effective police force.
“Dallas needs a more robust community policing effort to fight violent crime and strengthen neighborhoods,” Mr Johnson wrote in a blog post this past July. “And to get there, the city needs to hire more police officers. There is no question about it”.
Mr Johnson added that the Dallas city manager’s 2021-2022 fiscal year budget provides for 125 more new officer hires than initially planned, bringing the Dallas PD to its’ highest level of staffing since 2016.
Laura Cooper, executive director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, told the New York Times that Mr Johnson’s city “stands out for the amount of investment that the local government is putting into the department”.