How South Florida cities use COVID money to fund police
Several South Florida cities are among the local governments nationwide using federal COVID recovery funding to shore up their police departments and other law enforcement efforts.
Driving the news: Through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), President Joe Biden gave U.S. cities and counties $350 billion to recover from the pandemic.
- Few limitations were put on how local governments could spend ARPA funds.
The Marshall Project found that around $52.6 billion has been categorized as "revenue replacement," a vague catch-all category, while nearly half of that went to projects that mentioned police, law enforcement, courts, jails and prisons.
- Less than 10% went to "public health."
Of note: Biden has pointed to ARPA to show that Democrats don't want to "defund the police," the Marshall Project reports.
Zoom in: Florida got $8.8 billion in ARPA funding. Through a partnership with The Marshall Project, Axios found that:
- Hollywood spent $4 million to upgrade its police and fire rescue radio system, and $700,000 on premium pay for police and firefighters as "essential workers."
- Aventura received $1.3 million to pay for a new BearCat Armored Response Vehicle, police tasers, license-plate readers and radio system upgrades.
- Coral Springs received $43,000 for ballistic rifle plates — a type of body armor — for fire and EMS workers.
Yes, but: Cities also used the federal COVID funds for projects like sewer repairs and housing.
- Hollywood, which got $29 million, said it's using $500,000 for an affordable housing project and $300,000 for its small-business assistance program.
- Aventura, which got $18 million, budgeted $5.4 million to upgrade city parks with artificial turf, new lighting, and tennis and pickleball courts, according to city data. Another $1.75 million will pay for stormwater pipe replacement.
What they're saying: "Aventura is using ARPA funds to invest in the things that are most important to our residents — our parks, infrastructure, and public safety," said city spokesperson Evan Ross.
- "Public safety expenditures were highlighted as part of the funding program, so in Hollywood that was our focus," said Hollywood spokesperson Joann Hussey.
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