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Amid calls for a major budget cut, the Salt Lake City Council focuses on the police department

Posted at 9:44 PM, Jun 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-11 23:44:23-04

SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake City Council discussed changes they want to make to the police department Thursday night.

It comes during daily protests honoring George Floyd, asking for police reform and defunding of law enforcement.

The council admitted they’re hearing from people who want a $30 million police budget cut. That’s unlikely, but they are looking at everything from blocking funding for military-grade equipment to a year-long hiring freeze.

“We hear you. We hear from those of you who spoke at our meetings, those of you who called us,” said Salt Lake City Council Chair Chris Wharton.

The council is considering buying body cameras for every officer, along with software to automatically record when officers leave their vehicles.

They also discussed funding enhanced de-escalation training and the hiring of three social workers to help in non-violent situations.

“We need to make this very clear that this is our first step and the beginning of a conversation, I think I’m comfortable with that,” said council member Darin Mano.

The council is also re-evaluating the role of the police department. Moving some programs out from under the law enforcement umbrella while extending a year-long hiring freeze for new officers.

Some want to block federal funding for military-grade equipment while enhancing a system used to report police misconduct.

“If the attention moves off of this nationally and we as a council run out of steam, that’s on us,” said Wharton.

The council expressed extreme interest in hiring an outside auditor to look at the police department’s budget.

They are scheduled to vote on a budget on Tuesday.