Winston-Salem City Official Says Despite Protests, Police Budgets Cuts Unlikely

Winston-Salem City Official Says Despite Protests, Police Budgets Cuts Unlikely

9:55am Sep 01, 2020
Members of the Winston-Salem City Council held a virtual public forum on Monday to discuss the city's police budget. APRIL LAISSLE/WFDD

Winston-Salem residents called for increased law enforcement training and spending cuts at a public forum Monday night held to discuss the city’s police budget. The event was prompted in part by concerns raised by activists amid ongoing protests for racial justice. 

At the forum, city officials gave an overview of the police department’s $78 million budget and explained its priorities. During the public comment period, speakers, including resident Miranda Jones, said more funding should be allotted to anti-poverty initiatives. 

“I'm not asking you to get rid of your police," said Jones. "I'm asking you to invest in people before they meet the police, just like you do your fancy buildings downtown.”

Speakers also questioned police salary increases approved during the last city council meeting. Council Member Dan Besse, who suggested the raises, said that spending cuts are unlikely.

“I also know that the members of this council understand the value and importance of investing in equity in our community," said Besse. "However, I believe that I speak for most, if not all, of the council members in saying that there is no inclination among the council at this time for any significant reduction in our public safety budget.”

City officials say they now plan to hold similar public forums at least once a month. 

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