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GBC asks city council not to cut public safety funds

blurbs-fry-don1002rdThe Greater Baltimore Committee urged Baltimore City Council President Jack Young and the council not to cut police resources as outlined in Mayor Catherine Pugh’s budget in a letter sent to Young last week.

The letter from GBC President Donald Fry acknowledged Pugh’s desire to spend more on education than law enforcement but called cuts to the police budget “troubling.”

“For a city experiencing historic levels of violence, reducing the city’s commitment to crime fighting is troubling,” Fry wrote.

Pugh’s budget proposal would increase education spending by $22 million. Some $5.5 million of those funds would be shifted from the public safety budget.

The letter highlighted several areas of concern for the committee, including increasing caseloads for police at a time when the police department’s personnel is shrinking.

It also expressed concerns about cuts to the department’s aviation unit, marine unit, mounted unit and fleet of police vehicles.

“Law enforcement efforts and public safety are at a crisis point in Baltimore City,” Fry wrote. “The Fiscal Year 2018 budget is not the appropriate vehicle to cause a reduction or elimination of effective police resources that can reduce crime.”

Fry also asked that the city to conduct an audit of police overtime pay, which has increased over the past couple of years. The audit should include a plan to transition desk jobs manned by uniformed police officers to civilian employees, he wrote.

Finally, Fry warned that there could be economic consequences for the city if it fails to adequately fund public safety efforts.

“Failing to do so not only jeopardizes the safety of its citizens but also the economic vitality of the city,” he wrote.

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