CAMBRIDGE (CBS) – Protesters gathered outside of Cambridge City Hall Monday calling for police departments to be “defunded.”
It’s a message that has resonated at protests across the country since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. One protester, Tom Johnson, says taking money away is the only way to demand reforms. “Hit them in the budget, it’s the only place they feel anything,” said Johnson.
Other activists believe money that is allocated for police departments could be used to better serve community programs. Julianne Borger believes, “the police have been an institution of violence, especially against people of color.”
Jean-Luc Beaubien said police officers shouldn’t be the ones taking on so many responsibilities across communities. “There’s so many things that they have to respond to that they can never be trained for every single occurrence,” said Beaubien.
Ana Schreck feels the same way. “In some ways, you don’t want police to have to to fill all these different community needs, just like you wouldn’t want your primary care physician to address all of your medical needs. You’d want a specialist as well,” Schreck said.
The protest comes the same day Cambridge Police implemented a new order that requires officers to verbally or physically intervene if they see a fellow officer using excessive force. “This is something that our officers are well aware of, it just becomes crystallized and explicit through this general order,” said Cambridge Police Director of Communications Jeremy Warnick.
When asked about the protest calling for departments to be defunded, Warnick says, “it’s a difficult time for police right now.” He says Cambridge Police Dept. is using this moments as an opportunity to educate residents about all of the things officers do in the community. “The reality is if there is a reallocation of funds, our budget is very heavy on personnel.” Says Warnick, “it can potentially affect the services and programs that we offer.” As far as what that means for jobs? “ Potentially people out of jobs, and potentially programs that we’ve had long lasting here in the city, we’re not going to be able to support within our department.”