City Budgets, Policing, and Public Heath — Tracking a Work-in-Progress

Photo by Koshu Kunii on Unsplash

Although we can compare any number of agencies against the Metropolitan Police Department, I chose the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement as a proxy for D.C.’s public health approach to public safety. I am curious what I find as I explore other city budgets.

Is now the time to increase the police budget and decrease the budget for a public health approach? According to Mayor Bowser’s proposed budget as of 6 June 2020, that is exactly what will happen. If you feel one way or another about this issue, one simple way to get involved is to let your local council member know how you feel.

This is a tough time for city governments. On the one hand, city governments are facing unprecedented revenue shortfalls as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to hammer jobs and the economy. On the other hand, cities must still provide basic services as they always have. In the balance are precious few dollars and the agencies and programs they support — it will be impossible to please everyone.

I am compiling city budget data on police departments and public health approaches in a Google Spreadsheet. For visualizations, I connect the Google Spreadsheet to Datawrapper and embed to this blog.

Over the next few weeks, I hope to compile data and visualizations on city budget proposals across America to help the conversation along. If you want to join the project, have suggested resources, or want to share anything at all, please leave a comment.

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