The Lansing city council heard more than two hours of public comment during a meeting Monday night over a proposal to cut the city’s police budget in half over five years.
Councilmember Brandon Betz is joined by councilmember Kathie Dunbar in calling for diverting money cut from the police budget to social programs. They argue that would result in the prevention of crime. The proposal is backed by Black Lives Matter Lansing.
Several people spoke against the plan early in public comment, including Tim Brewbaker. He says “many minority communities have complained that the police don’t do enough to protect them. Defunding the police would make that worse.”
Grant Beuschel also opposes the plan, arguing that reducing the police force would not reduce crime.
The tone turned to mostly supportive comments from speakers like Farhan Sheikh-Omar, who stated “I believe that bad cops are a symptom and not the cause. We need to cure the underlying disease.”
Another backer of the plan, Emily Reyst, referred to a recent council vote declaring racism to be a public health emergency. “Because you all recognize racism as a public health crisis," Reyst continued, "and if we do not recognize the role that the police as an institution play in upholding white supremacy and the status quo, then passing that resolution means nothing.”
Others joined the call for mayor Andy Schor to resign.
Police chief Daryl Green has opposed such cuts and argues that the LPD is underfunded.
This was the first council meeting since Betz unveiled his proposal last week. It’s being referred to committee.