Today, on behalf of the nation’s mayors and the police chiefs of major cities across America, the Presidents of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Major Cities Chiefs Association sent letters to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) calling on them pass a fourth COVID-19 relief bill that includes direct and flexible fiscal assistance for all cities across the nation. COVID-19 is taking a heavy financial toll on city budgets in general and with local law enforcement on the front lines fighting the pandemic, police department budgets, in particular, have been severely strained.
The letters read in part:
“Anecdotally, Madison, WI may have to eliminate 30 police department positions next year; Oklahoma City is looking at a 3.3 percent cut in its police department; Dayton’s Mayor has said that without federal help, her city will have less police officers; and Albany’s Mayor has commented that in the absence of federal help, she may have to lay off hundreds of police officers and other workers who have been on the front lines, responding to the pandemic.
“Members of the Major Cities Chiefs Association have also reported COVID-19 related impacts that extend beyond salary cuts and layoffs. The Houston Police Department expects to cancel five cadet classes. Between these cancellations and retirements, Houston stands to lose approximately 700 officers. Some members have expressed concern that COVID-19 will affect future recruitment and retention efforts. Other members have postponed or canceled investments in important technology programs, including body-worn cameras. Many cities will also be forced to cancel summer youth programs. These programs are an important aspect of community policing efforts and there is concern that without them, youth crime rates may rise.”