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Brooklyn Center approves $1.3M public safety budget, including funding for policing reforms

The city will use some money from the police department for the new programs.
Brooklyn Center police, Daunte Wright

Destruction at the Brooklyn Center Police Department after a night of unrest in response to the killing of Daunte Wright in April 2021. 

The Brooklyn Center City Council has voted in favor of using about $1.3 million to support new public safety programs. 

The council, after a long and heated debate, voted 5-0 Monday night to approve the 2022 budget that would fund various public safety programs starting next year, including using an unarmed enforcement department to assist with low-level traffic violations and mental health calls. 

These are among the police reform measures the city proposed after Daunte Wright was killed by police in April. Opening statements in the trial of the officer who shot him, Kimberley Potter, will begin no later than Wednesday.

The aim of these new initiatives is to reduce people's negative interactions with police and help public safety officials better respond to mental health calls. 

To pay for the new Office of Prevention, Safety and Health, the city is freezing three currently vacant police openings – saving just over $300,000 – and is increasing the lodging tax, city documents show. The city previously secured private grants totaling $725,000 to fund a portion of the new department.

The budget that was approved on Monday is a compromise. Previously, the city had proposed moving funds for 14 police department positions to pay for the new programs but that was lowered to three after criticism from residents, politicians, and police organizations. 

Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliot criticized portions of the budget because it differed from the Daunte Wright and Kobe Dimock-Heisler Community Safety and Violence Prevention Act the City Council approved last May. In the city's 2022 budget, a new public safety director is not budgeted, though a coordinator position that would report to the city manager was included.

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Elliott expressed disappointment because a director position would give the person the power to make changes the city needs, the Star Tribune said. Others, including Daunte Wright's mom, also weren't happy with the change, saying she didn't want her son's name on a resolution that isn't going to be effective, MPR News reports

Some council members argued that they were talking about the 2022 budget and not deciding how the new public safety program will be run, which can be ironed out in the future.

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