FRAMINGHAM – After the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, while handcuffed and with a now-fired police officer’s knee in his neck for about 9 minutes, the Minneapolis City Council wants to defund the police department.
Now debates are happening all over cities across America on if police departments need to be defunded or reorganized.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said he does not support abolishing the city’s police force, despite a veto-proof majority of members of the city council pledging that they want to take that drastic step.
City Council Chair Lisa Bender in a TV interview said “We’ve looked at every reason that folks call 9-1-1. Why are people in Minneapolis calling for help? And we’re starting to pair what’s the right response to those calls. In the short term that helps our police officers focus on the work that they’re trained to do, while we have a better response to people who have a mental health crisis or a physical health crisis.”
Calls for defunding the police don’t mean no money for police departments. Some want to only partial defund the police.
But in Minneapolis, the Council is looking to cut $200 million from its $1.3 billion overall annual budget, said Bender.
In Framingham, the police department’s budget is almost $17 million of a $289 million city budget.
There were several signs calling for budget reform by the 800-plus protesters on Sunday.
SOURCE asked Framingham Mayor Yvonne Spicer questions about the police department on Monday, June 8.
The news outlet asked:
” I am requesting a statement on where you specifically stand on defunding or re-organizing the police department. Will you submit a proposal to the City Council? Do you think the Framingham Police need changes in light of the discussing about police across America?”
As of noon on Tuesday, June 9, the City of Framingham Mayor has not responded.
On June 3, Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone made a “declaration of a local state of emergency officially deeming systemic racism a threat to public health and safety.”
The Somerville mayor called for the ‘establishment of an independent, civilian oversight structure of the Somerville Police Department with membership representative of the community’s diversity.”
Framingham’s City Charter called for the creation of a Police Advisory Committee, to provide oversight and review of the Framingham Police Department. Mayor Yvonne Spicer has six members to that Committee. There is one vacancy currently.
The Somerville Mayor is also calling for “submission of a resolution to the City Council reiterating the critical need to implement body-worn cameras in the Police Department, an initiative the City has been pursuing with police union leadership since 2015.”
Earlier this month, Framingham State Representatives Jack Patrick Lewis & Maria Robinson signed the College Democrats of Massachusetts #NoCopMoney pledge. Neither has made a statement on funding police departments.
In the recent senate debate both Sen. Ed Markey & Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III discussed defunding the police.
Mayor Spicer has not announced any proposed changes to the City of Framingham, as of June 9. And she has not proposed any police reform changes to the Police Department since taking office in 2018.
While Minneapolis seems miles away, Framingham is not immune to gun violence in the black community.
Less than a decade ago, on January 25, 2011, Framingham police officer Paul Duncan fatally shot Eurie Stamps Sr. during a drug raid. Stamps Sr., who laid on the floor of his home unarmed, was not the target of the raid.
The Middlesex District Attorney’s office investigated the case and in March 2011, concluded the SWAT shooting was accidental.
An independent consultant, hired by the Town of Framingham, reviewed the SWAT team’s actions during the raid and concluded in September 2011, they were appropriate.
In 2013, Framingham made the decision to disband its SWAT team.
But on Christmas Eve in 2014, a federal judge ruled a Framingham Police Officer and SWAT team member may have violated a victim’s constitutional rights.
In Austin, Texas, when someone calls 9-1-1, dispatchers ask if they need police, fire or mental health services
Framingham is already a leader when it comes to police & mental health services.
In 2003, former Framingham Deputy Police Chief, and retired Ashland Police Chief Craig Davis created the Jail Diversion Program, a collaborative effort between the police department and the local mental health crisis team. The program embeds a mental health clinician within the police department to co-respond along officers for calls for service involving people who are mentally ill or who are in crisis. The program has since been replicated across the state to many police departments and communities.