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Tucson residents ask City Council to defund TPD and jail board

Tucson+City+Council+members+listen+to+residents+budget+requests

Tucson City Council members listen to residents budget requests

Tucson city residents called on Tucson City Council to defund the Tucson Police Department and jail board in wake of recent Black Lives Matters protests nationwide and locally.

During the June 9 meeting, the council allowed a public hearing for the recommended annual budget for fiscal year 2020-21, after which the council tentatively scheduled to adopt the budget.

The proposed budget for the Tucson Police Department is $157,779,300 and the jail board’s proposed budget is $6.4 million. Tucsonans called into the council meeting to propose reallocating that $157 million to other sources such as education and social work. 

          RELATED: A running list of statements made by UA organizations regarding George Floyd and protests

Francisco Cantú, a former law enforcement officer, called for the “defunding, disarming and dismantling” of TPD.

“The book learning and the policy training that the officers might get in the academy is one thing, and the way that they’re taught to work in the field and cover for another missteps is another,” Cantú said. 

He said that well-intentioned reform measures like de-escalation training or cultural sensitivity workshops isn’t enough. 

“I’m sure that many of you understand that we’re discussing right now, as a nation, something that is rooted in centuries of institutionalized oppression and violence, but I think it’s important to understand that as much as you may admire our local police force and individual officers and leaders that you’ve come to know and respect, TPD is part of these structures,” Cantú said. 

Tucson residents aren’t the first in the country to call for their police force to be disbanded after the death of George Floyd at the hands of police and experiencing violent police responses during recent protests; Minneapolis’s City Council announced they plan to defund and dismantle their police department Sunday, June 7. Council President Lisa Bender told CNN the council is looking to move police funding into community resources. 

Aubrey, a Tucson resident, also called for the disbanding of TPD and reallocation of their budget. 

“You say that Tucson is one of the most progressive cities in leadership yet that doesn’t seem to change how your institutions are funded,” Aubrey said. “When you spend our money, as taxpayers is a true reflection of- where you put it is a true reflection of your views.” 

Paul, another Tucson resident, said he wants to see Tucson become a community that helps its residents rather than one that punishes them. 

“The police are not the solution to the human struggles that are poverty, those experiencing homelessness, a lack of economic opportunity or affordable housing, mental health issues,” Paul said. 

          RELATED: A Celebration of Black Lives on the UA Mall

Over 20 people phoned into the city council meeting, many of whom said police departments are a reflection of institutional racism and almost all directly requested TPD be defunded. The council did not vote to adopt the budget and Mayor Regina Romero noted that the public hearing process for the budget is extended to next city council meeting on June 23. 

Tucson residents can continue to submit written comments regarding the proposed budget to cityclerk@tucsonaz.gov with a name and the agenda item in question. These comments are limited to 500 words. 

Individuals can also request to speak during the public hearing by calling into the teleconference. Details on how to submit the request to speak for the June 23 meeting will be posted on the upcoming agenda

The June 23 meeting will also be livestreamed on the City of Tucson YouTube channel.  


Follow Priya Jandu on Twitter 


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