Milwaukee Common Council Votes To Explore 10% Reduction In Police Budget

Jun 17, 2020

The Milwaukee Common Council passed a flurry of resolutions Tuesday morning. One of them was whether to explore a 10% reduction in the 2021 Milwaukee Police Department budget, resulting in an estimated $30 million from the department.

The measure was introduced by Alderman Jose Perez.

"There's a lot of things I think that we could think about and do to help our communities and continue public safety in a different way," says Perez.

To be clear, the common council did not cut the police budget by 10% with the resolution. Instead, the measure directs the city’s budget office to create a mock 2021 budget that reflects a 10% reduction in police spending.

The council will approve next year’s spending plan in November. But by taking this action now, council members hope to give constituents a picture of what a 10% reduction would look like and what impact it could have. It also gives council members time to debate how they might allocate the money, according to Alderman Bob Bauman.  

“This allows us almost four months to have a very informed discussion about how this city, how this community wants to see policing look like in the future. Ten percent as a start, we could go higher, we could go lower, but I think everyone is entitled to see what that type of reduction could mean both in terms of police services and in the other services to which we could allocate additional funding,” says Bauman.  

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But Alderwoman Milele Coggs recognized that the measure approved Tuesday doesn’t go far enough for the people calling to defund and divest in the police department.

“I know that there are those in the community who feel like it is not enough. I would just hope that they recognize that we hear them, but we also have to be responsible with the way in which we make decisions," says Coggs.

The resolution passed 13- 2, with Aldermen Scott Spiker and Mark Borkowski opposed. Spiker says he appreciates what Perez is trying to do with the measure, but he ultimately cited a gap in public safety as his primary reason to not support the resolution.