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- Demonstrations and protests have called for police reform following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after an officer kneeled on his neck in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
- Some Americans want police funding to be cut drastically.
- We took a look at how much taxpayer money state and local governments together spend per capita on police using data from the US Census Bureau.
- Police spending varies across the US, and around half the states spend between $250 and $350 per person.
- Washington, DC spent $911 per resident on police protection, more than any state.
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Demand for police reform is one of the pillars of the protests following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after an officer kneeled on his neck in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Protesters, celebrities, and government officials are among the Americans who believe reducing spending on policing is one of the necessary changes. People want spending to be cut in response to the use of violent tactics that have resulted in the death of Floyd and other black Americans, as well as after police have used aggressive measures on protesters, such as the use of tear gas and rubber bullets.
According to The Hill, some Minneapolis City Council members want to make drastic changes to the city police, including defunding the department. Minneapolis City Council member Jeremiah Ellison tweeted that council members need to “dramatically rethink how we approach public safety and emergency response.”
Singer Lizzo, actress Jane Fonda, and other celebrities have also signed a letter that calls for defunding police departments. The letter was created as part of a five-day plan of action by black rights groups, according to Variety.
Some people who want police budgets to be cut want the money to instead be used for social programs, according to Reuters.
We decided to look at total local and state government spending on police per capita, comparing how much taxpayer money each state spends on police while taking into account their varying population sizes. To calculate this, we used police protection expenditure figures from the US Census Bureau‘s Annual Survey of State and Local Government Finances from 2017, the most recent year available, and 2017 population estimates from the Census Bureau.
According to that data, slightly over half the states spent around $250-$350 per resident on police protection. Washington, DC’s spending per capita of $911 was the largest in the country, followed by New York at $530. Kentucky spent the least at $186 per resident:
Business Insider/Madison Hoff, data from US Census Bureau
Protests have been particularly intense over the past week in DC, including outside the White House. Police used tear gas and rubber bullets to clear people out of Lafayette Square so that President Donald Trump could walk over to St. John’s Church on June 1. Journalists on the scene noted that people were protesting peacefully before the police started using tear gas.
California is also among the top five states that spent the most on police when adjusted for population size. Los Angeles is one of the major cities that have had protesters march over the past few days. Thousands of people protested outside Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s house on June 2.
The city’s spending on police is $1.8 billion, but Garcetti and LA Police Commission President Eileen Decker recently announced cuts to the police budget, according to Deadline.
Additionally, according to GQ‘s analysis of US major cities’ spending on police, LA’s 2020-2021 proposed budget allocates $3.1 billion, or 30.0%, of its $10.5 billion budget on police. GQ notes this is the largest line item; the second-largest appropriation is public works at $1.4 billion, a difference of $1.7 billion.
As some Americans push for police reform, others have disagreed with the idea of reducing police budgets.
For instance, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers disagrees with defunding the state’s police but believes there is a need for changes within police departments, according to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Trump also recently commented on the call to defund police on Twitter, writing, “The Radical Left Democrats new theme is ‘Defund the Police’. Remember that when you don’t want Crime, especially against you and your family. This is where Sleepy Joe is being dragged by the socialists. I am the complete opposite, more money for Law Enforcement!”
The Radical Left Democrats new theme is “Defund the Police”. Remember that when you don’t want Crime, especially against you and your family. This is where Sleepy Joe is being dragged by the socialists. I am the complete opposite, more money for Law Enforcement! #LAWANDORDER https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/map-of-local-and-state-spending-on-police-per-capita-2020-6-1029286235
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