Walsh Discusses BPD Budget Amid Calls To Defund Police

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — As calls grow for the redistribution of police department funds nationwide, Mayor Marty Walsh said he planned to meet with the Boston Police Department to discuss its future budget.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Mayor Walsh said he would not go into "specifics," since the budget is still being reworked. However, Walsh signaled that no jobs would be lost in the process.

“We’re not laying off in the city," said Walsh. "Even with the potential $80 million in reductions across the board, layoffs are not at the top of the list."

Mayor Walsh said on Sunday that his administration would be aiming to "reallocate some" of the BPD budget, potentially for community involvement and training.

The Mayor's comments came in the wake of the in-custody killing of George Floyd, as cities and towns across the U.S. have been calling for police funds to be reallocated to support communities in other ways.

On Wednesday, Walsh said changes have already been made to policing in Boston, but he said there is more work left to do.

"I've reached out to the [city council] president several times now to have us sit down and talk about these issues," said Walsh. "And I think it can't just be with the council. I think we have to have broader community conversation. I think people need to understand what we've done in Boston, as far as reforming policing. But also acknowledging, hearing what people are saying, that some people feel - and accurately - we probably haven't gone far enough."

According to the Boston Globe, Boston city councilors have received more than 5,500 emails from residents calling for the city's spending priorities to be overhauled.

The city council met at noon on Wednesday to discuss several police-related issues, including a request for certain information about BPD, a request for "a hearing on identifying restorative justice practices and the role of police in our schools," and a hearing for "addressing non-lethal force restraint tactics employed by law enforcement."

At 3 p.m., a group of activists marched from Nubian Square to Boston City Hall to demand the council also consider slashing the Boston Police Department's $414 million budget by ten percent.

While Mayor Walsh said reallocating funds would be a start, he said there needs to be a clear plan about what to do with that money to help rebuild the relationship between police and their communities.

“Just cutting the budget doesn’t solve anything," said Walsh. "Cutting the budget doesn’t deal with racism, cutting the budget doesn’t deal with systemic issues. It’s not just about cutting the budget. It’s about how do we redirect some of the money potentially into other areas?”

Boston's city council's budget discussions are expected to conclude by the end of the week.

WBZ NewsRadio's Kim Tunnicliffe reports:

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(Photo: Getty Images)

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