Salem City Hall. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)
The Salem City Council will consider adopting a $752 million budget at its Monday, June 22 meeting.
The council has received hundreds of pages of comments from citizens about police funding as conversations emerge nationwide over reallocating some money earmarked for law enforcement for social programs and community groups.
Most of the submitted comments were opposed to any reduction in police funding and some suggested increasing the police budget.
Public safety takes the lion share of the city’s $138 million general fund budget.
The proposed budget includes $48.8 million for the Salem Police Department and $37.1 million for the Salem Fire Department.
The budget committee approved the 425-page document at a May 13 meeting.
While the council isn’t planning to follow other cities in cutting their police force’s budgets, there are ideas for reforming law enforcement.
Councilor Tom Andersen is asking for a work session to consider the city’s agreement with the school district for school resource officers. He’s also asking for a work session to discuss the use of city funds for non-criminal matters handled by the police department, like mental health services.
Councilor Jackie Leung wants to create a community commission to host conversations about the presence of officers in schools. She’s also going to make a motion to implement guidelines called #8cantwait that require de-escalation and ban shooting at moving vehicles.
Councilor Vanessa Nordyke is calling for a performance audit of the Salem Police Department.
The council will also discuss extending the declaration of emergency until August 31.
The declaration has allowed public camping in unimproved areas of Wallace Marine Park and Cascades Gateway Park.
Members of the public can submit email testimony ahead of the 6 p.m. meeting by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The meeting will be broadcast live on YouTube, on Salem’s Facebook page or on Comcast Cable channel 21.
Salem City Council members: Cara Kaser, Tom Andersen, Brad Nanke, Jackie Leung, Matt Ausec, Chris Hoy, Vanessa Nordyke, Jim Lewis and Chuck Bennett.