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Salt Lake Council says no $30m police budget cut, eyes other changes

(Adam Fondren, KSL, File)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Salt Lake City Council has rejected calls to cut $30 million from the police budget. But many members have also voiced support for significant changes at the department. 

Following the death of George Floyd and a protest which turned violent in Salt Lake City on May 30th, people bombarded the city council with demands to cut the police department’s budget by $30 million.

Councilmember Chris Wharton feels that amount would cut too deeply into essential police services and community programs. 

“While there’s no magic $30 million budget cut, there is a city council that hears what you’re saying and is committed to moving forward very seriously on this topic,” Wharton said during a work meeting on Thursday. 

Councilmembers are supporting changes to the budget to get body cameras for every officer, as well as devices in police cruisers that can automatically turn those body cameras on. 

Other changes the council is eyeing would give officers yearly enhanced de-escalation training, ban the buying of military equipment, and require the department to tell the council if there are any changes to their use of force policy. 

Some councilmembers also support having an outside audit of the department, hiring three more social workers, and separating Internal Affairs from the police department. 

It’s unclear just how many of these changes will or could happen. 

However, a new budget for the police department is expected to be approved next week that will divert $2.8 million dollars to a holding account that could be put towards future projects the council would have more control over. $1.6 million will also most likely go into another holding account for programs to help communities of color.