The Salt Lake City Council on Tuesday plans to vote on next year’s budget, which includes funding for about half of the new police officers the council wants. But not all are in support of more police.
Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski’s budget proposal sets aside roughly $6 million in new sales tax revenue to hire 27 additional officers, just over half the number the council settled on last fall after hearing the department needed to expand the force. Councilman Charlie Luke said the promise to hire 50 officers helped usher in public support for a $25 million dollar sales tax increase.
“Tomorrow what we’ll see is we will go ahead and fund the 27, but it is a missed opportunity to make some sort of a dent in that understaffing issue," Luke said.
The group Utahns Against Police Brutality plans to rally outside city hall on Tuesday to protest the hiring of any new police officers. They cite the deaths of three civilians at the hands of Salt Lake County police in the last year. The group said the money should go toward other programs like housing.
A spokesman for Biskupski said the mayor is still committed to hiring all 50 police officers, but because the department struggles to recruit candidates, it will have to be done over the next two years. Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown said he’s still trying to decide how many more officers he actually needs.
Councilman Luke worries there’s no guarantee the money will be there next year.