A divided Brooklyn Center City Council appears ready to vote on funding the city's alternative safety programs, all proposed after Daunte Wright was killed by a police officer.
The city scaled back how many vacancies in the Police Department would pay for the plan from 14 to three, after backlash from residents, police organizations and some City Council members. City officials also worked in an additional $268,000 to go toward unarmed mental health professionals to respond to mental health crisis calls, according to a presentation to the council Thursday from City Manager Reggie Edwards.
The proposals were an attempt by city staff to find a compromise amid a divided City Council as the deadline for the city to submit its budget for the next year looms. Council members will vote on the plan Monday.
"I think we have several places of agreement between council and staff — enough that we can proceed to Monday's meeting," said Mayor Mike Elliott.
Preliminary figures show the plan will cost the city just over $1 million — down from the mayor's proposal of $1.3 million, according to the discussion. Grants for its traffic enforcement department, to enforce nonmoving traffic violations, and its mental health response teams will cover about $500,000.
The rest could come from freezing three police officer positions totaling $303,114. Edwards said he worked with the Police Department to agree on the reallocation.
The council could reassess next year whether to hire for those positions or eliminate them completely, according to Edwards. The council could also increase its lodging tax, which would bring in an additional $52,500.
The discussions come as former Brooklyn Center police officer Kimberly Potter's trial began this week, with all 14 jurors seated on Friday. She faces one count each of first- and second-degree manslaughter for fatally shooting Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, during a traffic stop on April 11.
A culturally sensitive community response team going to mental health calls in a city that is nearly 70% people of color is important, Elliott said.
"The introduction of a community response team that is … deeply rooted in the community and can really work with folks to address the socioeconomic issues that we face and to move people out of poverty and create more stability," he said. "I think it's a net benefit for the community making this investment."
Though funding has not been approved, parts of the plan are already in motion; the city is interviewing potential project managers for its implementation team.
Still, signs the council was frayed were apparent.
Council Member April Graves disagreed with creating three new departments in the new Office of Community Safety and Violence Prevention — as the council's resolution passed in April called for — and accused the mayor of micromanaging the process before the plan was even set in motion.
"We didn't help draft that with you at all," Graves said. "I know that you want to lay the foundations of this work, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's the language that you put in the resolution exactly."
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