Adams holds public forum on police budget

Adams holds public forum on police budget
September 02
13:25 2020

At a place in time where citizens across the country are asking elected officials to take a closer look at how they fund law enforcement, earlier this week Mayor Pro Tempore Denise “DD” Adams held a virtual forum to discuss the police department’s budget for fiscal year 2020-21.

Adams, who represents the North Ward, said the purpose of the event was to educate the public and find ways to cultivate the relationship between the community and law enforcement.

“We know that it’s not perfect. We know there are a lot of things that could be better, but we are here willing to learn and make this process better,” Adams continued, “so our citizens can be more informed than what has happened in the past. In the past we presented the budget and had listening sessions all over town, but as I explained to staff and the council, we need to start communicating in a way that everybody can understand.”

To begin the forum, Patrice Toney, the city’s budget and evaluation director, gave a presentation on the police department budget, detailing how the department plans to use the $78.7 million outlined in the budget.

After the presentation, Toney opened the floor for questions and comments from the public. While several speakers called for the city to bump up the police presence, most of the speakers called for more training on de-escalation. Karen Dorr suggested the city use funding allocated for the Field Services division to offset the cost for the training and create a de-escalation response team.

The Field Services Bureau, which includes the Patrol and Special Operations divisions, makes up 54% of the total budget. “I really think it could come out of the Field Services part of the budget,” Dorr said. 

“I think it would really behoove this body to push for what I’m calling a de-escalation response team which would consist of a social worker, psychologist, a police officer and a community member who are all trained specifically in de-escalation techniques.”

Pastor Tembila Covington, president of the Minsters’ Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity (MCWSV), echoed Dorr’s sentiments when she spoke during the forum. She said that we need to put more effort into training officers in de-escalation, counseling and prevention, as well as more social programs for the community. 

“I believe that as we have detailed a budget, perhaps developing a strategic plan that would reallocate some funds towards educational and training programs would be helpful,” Covington said. 

Before wrapping up the forum, Toney said she would be taking suggestions made during the forum back to the police department to explore some of the changes that need to be made. 

A link to the budget presentation including a breakdown of the budget will be posted on the city’s website by the end of the week. The forum can be viewed by visiting the city’s YouTube page.

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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