ST. LOUIS – St. Louis City Mayor Tishaura Jones‘ fiscal year 2022 budget proposal to reduce the city’s policing budget by $4 million was approved by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment Thursday.
The $4 million mostly comes from the deletion of 98 vacant uniformed officer positions. Reducing the vacant positions would also mean reducing officer’s overtime. This reduction still leaves over 50 uniformed officer positions available. No current officers will lose their jobs.
The proposal has the money reallocated to other services in the city. If the Board of Alderman approves the budget as is before July 1, the Affordable Housing Trust Fund would get an increase of $1.5 million, $500,000 would be allocated to giving legal support to the Civil Rights Enforcement Agency (CREA), Victim’s Support services would get $999,827, and the Department of Health and Human Services would also get $999,644 to give support to the unhoused.
The budget would also break up the police department budget into more units. Previously the City Marshals and Park Rangers had their own budget numbers. The new units include Budget and Finance, Supply and Uniform, Internal Affairs, Force Investigative Unit, Information Technologies, Patrol, 911 Dispatch/Communications, and Prisoner Processing.
“You saw a proposed budget amendment that reflects more of my priorities and to address the root causes of crime and support victims of crime as well as those who have been underserved and underrepresented,” Jones said.
Jones worked with Police Chief John Hayden on the police budget and he said he is in favor of the proposal. The reallocation of funds falls under amendment two in the budget proposal. It passed with votes for it from Jones and Comptroller Darlene Green. Board of Alderman President Lewis Reed voted against it.
Reed said he voted against the vacant officer reduction amendment because he is concerned about spending the $4 million when history shows the city will need that money to help pay overtime costs for officers doing more because positions haven’t been filled.
Hayden was in Thursday morning’s meeting and assured Reed that he wasn’t worried about reducing the number of vacant positions.
Reed then moved to adopt the budget as amended and Jones, Green and Reed all voted in favor of it.
The budget proposal will now go to the full Board of Aldermen for more debate before any final action is taken.
There are also concerns about the permanent officer reductions from both the St. Louis Police Officers Association and the Ethical Society of Police.
The budget has to be in place by July 1.