Defunding a police department: who makes the final call? Newport News Mayor breaks the process down

Explaining what it means to defund the police
Posted at 11:29 AM, Jun 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-10 11:29:33-04

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - Happening now across the United States, several major cities have called for their police departments to be defunded. This comes after George Floyd’s arrest which resulted in his death and recent videos at nationwide protests showing police brutality. So, could this new change be coming here to Hampton Roads? What would it look like if it did?

Mayor McKinley Price says defunding police departments would look different in each city across the country, but in Newport News it would mean taking a closer look at a model designed by The Justice Department.

Mayor Price, who is also the President of The African American Mayor’s Association which represents about five hundred black mayors in the country, says right now he along with the other mayors in the organization have been sharing each other’s best practices on handling the latest issues in their cities.

Right now, there is a lot of talk about what it means to defund a police department. The topic of discussion comes after the video of George Floyd’s arrest went viral and other recent videos taken at nationwide protests show police brutality.

In some cities, we’re seeing defunding a police department could mean moving some of the department money and putting it into the community instead. But in Newport News, Mayor Price says the funds would stay in the police department. The funds would be allocated in different amounts to certain sections set up within the force.

“For us, it would mean trying to probably look at a model the Justice Department has put down and that’s a P.I.E.R. Model -which would stand for Prevention, Intervention, Enforcement and Reentry. So, looking at those right now, I think most departments are heavy in enforcement. So, what we would do is make sure the funds are distributed in an equitable way across those four titles,” said Mayor Price.

And of course, with talk of defunding the police, there has also been talk of reforming police policies. In an interview with Chief Steve Drew of the Newport News Police Department, News 3 learned the department has already implemented change in their recruit class with trying to keep it diverse in different ways including race, experience and background. Chief Drew also says each officer must intervene if a situation takes a turn for the worst regardless of the officer’s rank.

“If you see an officer do something wrong you are obligated to report it. You will interact, you will interrupt, you will engage,” explained Chief Drew.

When it comes to allocating funding within the community, Mayor Price says it’s crucial to have an accurate census count. Right now, he says the city is only at about 60 %.

“What we’re trying to do is make sure that with the census people are responding. So, we have these federal funds that come in so we can adequately take care of those types of programs and distribute funds that are needed in our neighborhoods,” said Mayor Price.

Mayor Price is not advocating defunding the police department in the City of Newport News. He says it’s something though the city could evaluate. But in the end, it wouldn’t be up to the Mayor but rather up to city council to make the final call.