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Residents criticize proposed police funding at Taxpayers' Night

Dominique Maria Bonessi

Dozens of residents showed up at Baltimore City Hall and online Wednesday night to complain that the police department was getting too big a share of the city’s budget.

They argued during the Board of Estimates’ annual taxpayer night that at least part of the $560.4 million allocation to the department in Mayor Brandon Scott’s proposed budget could be put to better use.

Brendan Burns, a resident of the Ednor Gardens neighborhood, cited the recent shooting of a Johns Hopkins physician. Burns said police regularly patrol his area, but to him, it does not seem to reduce crime.

“My question is, why are we spending half the city's budget to give people like me a false sense of security, and all the other priorities are left to starve?” Burns asked.

Scott’s proposed budget for FY 2023 is $4 billion.

Lydell Hills of Organizing Black and Truth to Power argued it would be more beneficial to communities— particularly the youth— if some of the police budget were reallocated to other services, which he said are so underfunded they are often inaccessible.

“We have so many different services in the city, so many different providers. However, they are so underfunded, [they are] unable to provide the actual service.”

A man who identified himself only as Mr.Bluefield agreed community outreach is a more promising solution to the city’s crime problem.

“If you want to decrease crime, Mr. Mayor, give it to some of these teams who've been talking today,” Bluefield said.

“They interact with the people in the community, particularly younger people who are looking for hope. And they can't find it anywhere because the people you just heard from don't have the resources.”

The City Council will host its own taxpayer night on May 26.

Callan Tansill-Suddath is a State House Reporter for WYPR, where she covers the General Assembly.