Providence City Council considers defunding the police

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — After more than a thousand emails poured in about defunding the police, the Providence City Council finance committee is now taking up the issue.

City Council President Sabina Matos says she does not support eliminating the police, but she’s learning that “defund” is not the same as “unfund.”

“What some of the individuals are proposing is just to reallocate some funding from the police into maybe other departments, or maybe reallocated within the police department into a different division,” said Matos.

Supporters say money could also be reallocated toward community programs to prevent crime.

But the Providence police union says the police department already does much of that community-oriented work. The union is firmly against any effort to defund, pointing out that reforms like better training and body cameras require more funding.

“If there are issues facing our police department, we need to know that,” said Councilman John Igliozzi, the head of the finance committee. “If there are issues that reform has to occur, we should know about that. So tonight’s meeting is about shining a light on those issues, and how do we address them collectively, and in a reasonable, responsible financial manner?”

More than 20 percent of the city budget goes to public safety, and roughly half of that goes specifically to police.

Matos says it’s too early to talk numbers, but she’s open to discussing ideas, like more civilians in the police department.

“Maybe more bodies in the police, but in a different role,” she said. “I want to listen, I want to learn from what is being presented.”

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