Nonetheless, there were some members of the public who spoke up in favor of defunding the police.
Flagstaff resident Rudy Preston asked the council to organize a series of listening sessions giving community members the opportunity to weigh in on how policing needs to change locally, and requested the council pass a binding resolution committing the city to restructure the police department.
“We want a whole different way of community support that does not require interacting with an armed agent of the state, that focuses on early and compassionate intervention and long-term support,” Preston said.
Other members of the public referenced the funding the department receives compared to other city programs. The department is set to take about 31% of the city’s general fund, though only 5% of its total 2021 budget.
Other supporters of defunding pointed to how minority populations in Flagstaff, specifically Native Americans, are arrested at much higher rates than their white counterparts.
“Unfortunately, as a nation we are being confronted with the reality that police departments are not actually qualified to address the health and safety of our vulnerable populations, including black and brown community members,” said resident Desiree Perez.
After the three hours of public comments, Vice-Mayor Adam Shimoni said he was willing to take a second look at the police department’s budget during the council’s meeting on June 16.