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Metro Council moves to amend budget plan with LMPD changes amid calls for 'defunding' police

Protesters continue their call for police reform even though Metro Council isn't proposing cutting any funds from the department.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Protesters have made a stand for over three weeks asking for answers in the death of Breonna Taylor and demanding systemic changes. Now--the city is making moves towards police reform.

One of the big points of controversy surrounds whether or not to "de-fund the police."

The amended budget doesn't do that and Metro Council isn't proposing cutting any city funds from LMPD. 

Rather, the amended version of the budget re-prioritizes how the department spends its $190.5 million.

In its amended budget, millions of dollars would go towards disadvantaged neighborhoods through affordable housing and property initiatives. 

"We really are investing tens of millions of dollars in disadvantaged neighborhoods and we are using a piece of the police budget to improve i think the ways police can police," Budget Committee Chairman Bill Hollander, D-9, said. 

Here's the proposed funds to go towards housing:

  • $5 million in additional funding for the Louisville Affordable Housing Trust Fund (LAHTF) and its partners to address vacant and abandoned properties through the creation of direct purchase or lease-to-purchase opportunities. The budget ordinance includes incentives for contractors who offer new employment, training, and sub-contracting opportunities to low- and very low-income residents of the areas where the projects are located, and businesses that substantially employ these persons. This funding is in addition to the $5 million LAHTF allocation in the recommended budget, for a total of $10 million for affordable housing.
  • $2.5 million for programs that support home repair, address vacant and abandoned properties, and increase home ownership. The programs provide grant funds to homeowners unable to obtain financing for repairs, build and rehab properties in the Landbank, and fund foreclosure, demolition, clear-boarding, and other activities.
  • $1 million is allocated for a new Homeowner and Rental Repair Loan Fund to support improvement of residences. Low property values caused by decades of redlining and disinvestment mean many Louisvillians, especially those in West Louisville, cannot get financing to improve their residences. Leveraging private investments from banks, this funding is designed to create a $10 million fund.
  • $413,400 will put a Metro Public Works crew into neighborhoods, and particularly alleys, to clean areas which have a high level of illegal dumping.
  • $170,000 to hire two additional Code Enforcement Officers working with Develop Louisville to revitalize disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Some state and federal funds would also go towards recruitment, and training. Money would be spent on exploring co-responders, like behavior health specialists, for calls to the homeless or those with mental disorders. 

"The revised budget redirects $1.2 million in state LMPD funds for exploration and implementation in deflection, a practice that moves individuals away from the criminal justice system in a behavioral health guided model, along with co-responder approaches which place behavioral health specialists with police to offer case management connections to treatment, housing, and services," Hollander wrote in a summary of the unanimous decision to amend the budget Monday night. 

"Additionally, funds will be directed to recruitment efforts for a police force which more closely looks like and lives in the community; and training, including use of force, de-escalation, and implicit bias. It encourages Mayor Fischer and LMPD to redirect $1.6 million in federal funds for the same purposes, for a total of $2.8 million,and requires a public, detailed list of all those expenditures."

"We absolutely don't want to fund bad behavior but I do want to fund good, positive, productive behavior," Councilwoman Barbara Sexton- Smith, D-4, said. "I do want them to have the appropriate equipment, and to make sure they have the funding available. I want them to have the training they so very much deserve and need."

They also proposed allocating funds for a civilian oversight system, which is an independent board to review LMPD.

"Our police officers have been burdened with workloads and responsibilities that are far beyond the scope of their tools and training — and the result, naturally, has been poor outcomes for everyone involved," Councilman Brandon Coan, D-8, said. 

Coan presented his idea of how to cut some LMPD funds, but other council members said they don't support the move...including the two former police officers on the council. 

"I support no de-funding of the LMPD at all," Councilman Mark Fox, D-13, said. 

"If we want to have professional law enforcement in our community, we have to pay our police officers well," Metro council President David James, D-6, said "We need to do better and look at other ways to help protect our community and we need to fund our police department."

Several budget committee members said LMPD is already "underfunded" and needs to be "supported."

None of the amended changes would need to come out  of the city's rainy day fund.

The amended budget now goes to the full council which will vote on it this Thursday. 

►Contact reporter Tyler Emery at temery@WHAS11.com. Follow her on Twitter (@TylerWHAS11) and Facebook.  

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