Blue city mayor defunds police force by more than $8 million to aid migrants

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A Democrat-controlled city announced $45 million in funding for programs to help deal with the skyrocketing number of migrant arrivals it is facing, resulting in over $8 million in budget cuts for the police department. 

Denver Mayor Mike Johnston announced last week a package of $45.9 million to fully fund programs for “newcomers” for 2024 and avoid worst-case scenarios projected by the city. That’s in addition to $44 million in spending already secured for the program through previous budget moves. 

Spending on migrants in the city skyrocketed last year from $2 million a month in August to $15 million in December. In January, migrant numbers peaked at around 5,000 in shelters but have since dropped to around 1,000, according to official figures.

DENVER CITY OFFICIAL CAUGHT ON CAMERA BEGGING MIGRANTS TO LEAVE, HEAD TO CHICAGO, NYC 

Mayor Mike Johnstoon

Migrants on sleeping bags in Denver, Colo., and Denver Mayor Mike Johnston, right (Getty Images)

“After more than a year of facing this crisis together, Denver finally has a sustainable plan for treating our newcomers with dignity while avoiding the worst cuts to city services,” Johnston said. 

DENVER MAYOR PLEADS FOR NATIONALLY COORDINATED EFFORT ON MIGRANT CRISIS AS CITY NEARS ‘BREAKING POINT’

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The mayor’s office says it will avoid layoffs or furloughs of employees, but there will still be cuts to find the extra $45.9 million in funding. The mayor’s office will see its budget cut by nearly 10%.

Denver’s police department, meanwhile, will have its budget cut by $8.4 million, about 1.9% of its budget. And about $5 million of that will come from restricting hiring for open positions, 9News reported. Police officers will still be hired by Denver International Airport, which will pay for the costs of a recruiting class.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE COVERAGE OF THE BORDER SECURITY CRISIS

Elsewhere, the city’s fire department will have its budget cut by less than 1%, about $2.5 million, largely from not filling open positions.

Funded as part of the new spending will be a new “Denver Asylum Seekers Program.” It will apply to around 1,000 people in the shelter system and will connect them with housing assistance options for six months until they can get a work permit under their asylum claims. 

There will also be a “WorkReady” program, described as an “innovative pre-work authorization readiness program” by which migrants can be connected with training opportunities, including language instruction.

The city says it has helped more than 40,000 migrants in 16 months, the most per capita of any city in the country, at a cost of more than $68 million.

A spokesperson for Johnston rejected descriptions of the cuts as “defunding” the police and said there will be 167 new police recruits added to the force in 2024. The spokesperson also said the 1.9% cut is less than the average of 2.5% cuts to all city agencies and that the cuts will have no impact on public services and result in no officers being taken off the streets.

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“The City of Denver’s adjustment to the Denver Police Department’s budget was carefully crafted with safety leaders and Mayor Johnston to ensure there would be no impact to the department’s public services. And no officers will be taken off the streets,” spokesperson Jordan Fuja said. 

Denver

Denver Mayor Mike Johnston (Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post)

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“To say that Denver is ‘defunding the police’ is a willful mischaracterization of the budget adjustments, which actually just delays the purchase of new furniture and shifts the funding source for one cadet class,” he said. “In fact, Mayor Johnston has invested millions to add 167 new police recruits to our force in 2024 and will continue to invest in public safety to ensure every Denverite is safe in their city.”

It’s the latest battle by liberal cities to deal with the flow of migrants that have surged into their communities, whether it be the migrants moving by themselves or being bussed in from Texas.

New York City last year proposed significant budget cuts, including to police, but later reversed them amid a growth in revenue. Chicago has also faced massive pressures on its budget over the number of migrants coming in.



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