St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones proposed a new city budget including a $4 million cut from the police department.
According to the St. Louis Post-Disptach, Jones has shown a commitment to her promise to change the city’s approach to law enforcement and crime. On her first day in office, the freshman mayor proposed a new city budget that takes funding from the police budget and allocates the money to other causes.
The budget zeroed out funding for one of St. Louis’ two jails for a projected savings of $7.8 million. $1.3 million of that will go towards social workers and other services aimed at helping jail detainees return to society.
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This week, Jones supported a cut of $4 million out of the police department’s $171 million budget for the next fiscal year and directed the newly available funds to affordable housing, a victims’ services program, homeless aid and civil rights litigators.
“What we’ve been doing doesn’t work,” Jones said when announcing the proposed budget, which still needs approval from the Board of Aldermen according to the Post-Dispatch. “This revised budget will start St. Louis on a new path to tackling some of the root causes of crime.”
Interim Public Safety Director Daniel Isom, a former St. Louis police chief looks forward to seeing Jones’ changes become reality.
“I do think it’s a significant shift, but that’s the direction that our country is going in,” Isom told the Post-Dispatch. “For many, many years we’ve had this law-and-order approach, this tough-on-crime approach and there was very little emphasis on prevention and intervention.”
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As theGrio previously reported Jones was elected mayor of the Midwest city in April, becoming the first Black woman to hold the title, and only the third Black mayor in St. Louis history.
“St. Louis: This is an opportunity for us to rise,” Jones said in her victory speech. “I told you when I was running that we aren’t done avoiding tough conversations. We are done ignoring the racism that has held our city and our region back.”
“We need to declare gun violence as a public health crisis and address it as such, just as how we’ve addressed this current pandemic,” Jones said in a previous interview. “We need to have that same laser-focused attitude of looking at the root causes like we did with the pandemic, we need to address that same sort of root cause, focus on gun violence and public safety.”
On April 29, Congresswoman Cori Bush issued a statement of support for Mayor Jones’ proposal.
“For decades, our city funneled more and more money into our police department under the guise of public safety, while massively underinvesting in the resources that will truly keep our communities safe,” said Congresswoman Bush.
“Previous administrations spent more per capita on policing than all comparable cities, building a police force that is larger than that of any city comparable to St. Louis. But even as more and more money has gone into policing, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department continues to be the deadliest police force in the nation, year after year — all while violence in our communities continues to skyrocket.”
She continued, “today’s decision to defund the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department is historic. It marks a new future for our city. We are building a St. Louis where elected officials lead in partnership with activists, organizers, and our communities. We are building a St. Louis where our schools are funded, and our unhoused neighbors can be sheltered. We are building a St. Louis where our streets are safe and our youth can grow and prosper — where we can not just survive St. Louis, but thrive. I look forward to continuing to work in partnership with Mayor Tishaura Jones — and I commend her for her incredible leadership with today’s decision”
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