Last week, I circulated a simple bar graph on social media depicting how the City of Detroit prioritizes annual spending from its general fund. Simple budgetary posts usually go unnoticed or unshared, but this one quickly went viral. Why?
On the left, we saw general fund spending on Detroit’s police department at nearly $295 million and, on the far right, spending on the health department not quite $9 million. The full budgets for these departments are higher because of federal and state contributions, grants, and other non-tax sources. The city also contracts with outside agencies to provide some health services. Even counting these other sources, the disparity is significant.
With more than 1,400 lives lost in Detroit during the COVID-19 pandemic, at least 82% of whom were African-American, according to city data, we will never know how many of our neighbors and family members would still be with us had we invested more in health services. The more money we dedicate to policing while underfunding other core municipal services, the more we condemn ourselves to fatal outcomes. One need not be a finance expert to see that Detroit’s leaders have a priority problem.
Article URL : usp_custom_field : https://www.freep.com/story/opinion/contributors/2020/06/16/defunding-police-detroit/5344464002/