Nov 1, 2022 - News

Council member's latest attempt to defund Denver police fails

Denver City Council member Candi CdeBaca during a city council meeting Monday. Photo: Esteban L. Hernandez/Axios Denver

The latest effort to take money from the police department and direct it to other agencies was rejected Monday by Denver City Council.

Why it matters: The 29 proposed budget changes β€” totaling $127 million β€” demonstrate how the campaign to defund the police and direct the money to social services has stalled two and half years after the George Floyd protests brought it to the forefront.

Driving the news: The proposals all came from Council member Candi CdeBaca, the panel's most liberal member, and failed to gain support from most of the nine other members present during Monday's meeting.

  • Altogether, the changes would have effectively halved the police department's proposed $257 million allocation from the city's general fund for 2023, which is up 4.6% from 2022.
  • The police department's total proposed budget for 2023 is $308 million, which includes grants and special revenue.

Flashback: CdeBaca unsuccessfully attempted to replace the police department with a "peacekeeping" alternative in 2020.

Zoom in: CdeBaca's proposed changes ranged from a $25,000 diversion toward an annual community luncheon to $40 million for the purchase of more hotels for supportive housing for people experiencing homelessness.

  • Other proposals for police budget dollars included $20 million to allow the city to lease apartments to people experiencing homelessness, $15 million for rental assistance, $15 million for improvements to the 38th Street underpass and $10 million to buy land and real estate to create a regional mental health and substance use facility.

Between the lines: The council is responsible for approving the city's budget – Mayor Michael Hancock proposed a $1.66 billion budget for 2023 – and members can submit changes to the city's spending plan.

  • Council members will have until Nov. 7 to introduce proposed changes, according to a city council spokesperson.

The intrigue: CdeBaca is the only council member to so far submit changes to the proposed budget. And the fact that her colleagues declined to support her plans also illustrates how challenging it's been for her ideas to gain traction since being elected in 2019.

What's next: The council is scheduled for a final vote on the proposed budget on Nov. 14.


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