Cleveland Council Members Question Mayor Jackson's Police Spending

Councilman Matt Zone and Finance Director Sharon Duman discuss public safety budget. [Matt Richmond / ideastream]
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Cleveland City Council has started debating Mayor Frank Jackson’s proposed budget for 2017. With the infusion of revenue from an increased city income tax, the proposed budget includes boosts for several departments and more than 350 new hires and one department that may see a substantial raise is public safety.

Under Jackson’s proposed budget, the police department alone will see an $8 million increase. His proposes hiring 93 new police employees, 65 will be patrol officers. But at a city council safety committee hearing, members questioned whether enough of the expected $83 million dollars in total increased revenue will go toward making a noticeable improvement in public safety.

Councilman Zack Reed said he campaigned for the tax increase last year, and residents in his ward supported it because they expected more police on patrol.

“I’m not comfortable going out there and making it seem like when they raised their income tax and we do this that we did something so spectacular as it relates to public safety especially within the police force from what you’re telling us here today," said Reed.

Reed questioned whether the formation of a new unit, the Neighborhood Impact Community Engagement Squad, dubbed N.I.C.E. by the administration, will make a noticeable difference since it will be downtown, part of the chief of police’s office. Others argued the money would be better spent on homicide detectives and crime scene investigators. Safety Committee Chairman Matt Zone countered that the improvements will become more noticeable in 2018 and beyond because $40 million from the income tax hike this year has to go toward paying off a budget deficit. Council will hold another hearing on February 28th to consider the public safety part of the proposed budget.

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