After a long and heated debate, the Brooklyn Center City Council passed a plan Monday night to fund alternative public safety programs.
The City Council voted 5-0 to approve the $1.3 million plan for the city's new agency that was proposed after Daunte Wright was killed by a police officer in April.
The updated budget would cost the city about $600,000, according to city documents. The city would freeze three police officer positions totaling about $303,114 and increase its lodging tax to bring in an additional $52,500.
Grants would cover $725,000 for the city's traffic enforcement department, for unarmed workers to enforce nonmoving traffic violations and for its mental health response teams.
However, the mayor and several people said it fell short of the original resolution's vision that was passed in April.
After a presentation from the city manager, Mayor Mike Elliott said he was disappointed that a director for the new public safety agency was not explicitly budgeted as outlined by the original resolution that the City Council passed in April. The position budgeted in the city's plan indicated the position would be a coordinator.
At one point, Elliott called City Manager Reggie Edwards' actions for budgeting a coordinator "subversive," saying a director position would give that person the power to make the transformative change Brooklyn Center needs.
"We have made this commitment with our community, and they came out and spoke passionately about the need to have this resolution and that they supported this resolution" Elliott said. "Moving forward with a structure that isn't what the resolution outlined undermines the trust with the public because we have said one thing and now we are doing something different."
However, the rest of the council felt it was a step in the right direction. The city attorney said the council could pass the budget and make amendments in the future as necessary if it wanted to add the position.
Councilwoman April Graves said the structural issues the mayor had could be resolved in the future with the help of an implementation committee and other outside groups.
"Arguing about it right now when we need to pass our budget is creating more confusion. It's making people think something changed between [the last meeting] and today which nothing has," she said. "I'm confused why we're running in circles."
Some people raised other concerns that the proposal did not comply with the original resolution, called the Daunte Wright and Kobe Dimock-Heisler Community Safety and Violence Prevention Act. Among the concerns: The Police Department would lack accountability because the agency that oversees it reports to the city manager and not directly to the council, and a proposal for mental health response teams to be a 12-hour service instead of 24 hours.
"I have contemplated … to ask for my son's name to be taken off this resolution," said Katie Wright, Daunte Wright's mother. "I don't want my son's name on a resolution that is not going to be effective, that is going to cause so much adversity in the community and that people are not in support of."
The vote comes as former Brooklyn Center police officer Kimberly Potter's trial began last week. Opening statements are expected no later than Wednesday. She faces one count each of first- and second-degree manslaughter for fatally shooting Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, during a traffic stop April 11.
The city scaled back how many vacant police positions would pay for the alternative safety programs in 2022 from 14 down to three after backlash from residents, police organizations and some City Council members.