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Mayor Bronin, Hartford leaders announce $5 million allocated to create civilian crisis response team

Bronin said while he doesn't support ‘defunding’ police, he fully supports reimagining policing and embracing real reforms.

HARTFORD, Conn. — Mayor Luke Bronin announced the formation of a Civilian Crisis Response Team as the state repairs community relations with local law enforcement.

The civilian response team is still being formulated, but officials says this team will help take some pressure off police.

Mayor Luke Bronin, said “We ask a lot of our police… more than we should. Our police routinely have to go on calls where they’re issues that are related to mental health or emotional distress, trauma or addiction.”

This is the reason officials say they are forming a the civilian team.

The announcement comes after the council already voted to re-allocate money from the police department and usher the funds into other programs.

Full details on what it may look like are still being developed, but funding has been committed.

Mayor Bronin said, “In the next four years the city of Hartford will commit 5-million dollars to design building and scaling up a crisis response team that allows civilian trained professionals to respond to certain calls for service in place of the police.”

Now some cities across the nation are developing similar concepts as Hartford says it’s going to be a leader on public safety reform, but for some like city councilwoman Shirley Surgeon this initiative means so much more as she says how this will impact her 12-year old legally deaf grandson.

Shirley Surgeon said, “A Couple of days ago he asked grandma what happens if I get pulled over, and I am trying to move my hand and sign and explain to him, explain to the police why I am not understanding, so this is my personal story, but this story goes across to people of color.”

The civilian response team can handle situations where officials say police aren’t needed like working with the homeless and.

“This is one of those investments that we believe we could help make our community stronger, make our community safer and also save resources in the years ahead,” said Mayor Bronin.

500-thousand dollars are already committed for this year and officials say they will be working on this initiative as soon as possible.

Watch Facebook live coverage below:

Hartford civilian response initiative

Hartford leaders are discussing their intent to create teams of trained civilians to respond to issues in the community.

Posted by FOX61 on Thursday, June 18, 2020

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*Update as of 11:39 p.m.*

A proposal on the Hartford City budget was passed late Wednesday night. The proposal passed unanimously. 

The resolution would re-allocate $1 million within the Hartford Police Department. According to the resolution, $500,000 from the Detention Center and another $500,000 from the Vice Intel and Narcotics Unit will be moved. The Permanent Domestic Violence Team will get $300,000 and the Community Walk-beat and Training will get $700,000. 

Another million will be moving out of the department to other city services including the Department of Children and Families and the Department of Human Services. 

The mayor's office said a full break down would be released soon. 

Read the Democratic Financial Resolution below:

Below is the original story:

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The capital city's council is set to vote Wednesday on its budget for fiscal year 2021.

People across the nation are concerned more than ever about municipalities' funding and that concern has spread even to Hartford.

In the wake of George Floyd's death and other recent incidents of police brutality, a worldwide reckoning over racial injustice has been inspired.

With that has come a movement and call to "defund the police." — It’s a saying that can be heard at protests across the country.

Experts say defunding the police isn’t really about abolishing police departments. It’s more so about reform, systematic change and reallocating funds.

RELATED: What Does 'Defunding' the Police Really Mean?

In this year’s recommended general fund budget about 15% of the cities budget is expected to go to public safety, about half of that to the police department.

Two city council members have recommended reallocating 25% of the police departments funding to other community services.

That discussion to divert funds to social systems and policies is to educate and change excessive police force that has affected many Americans.

While Mayor Luke Bronin policing should be included when talking about combating systemic racism and eliminating disparities, he has also said that he does not believe drastic cuts to the police department are necessary.

Bronin said he believes the Hartford Police Department has made positive changes in the last few years and they will continue to make more changes.

“The City of Hartford has done a lot of the things that other communities or just beginning to talk about," Bronin said. "Years ago we took police out of schools, we stopped buying military surplus equipment, we rolled out body cameras, we adopted a progressive use of force policy and we’ve taken accountability very very seriously.

The mayor also noted that Hartford had a civilian use review board for a while, but it needs to be strengthened and long before George Floyd's death.

"For me that means a professional full-time investigative support staff, I think we also auto give it subpoena power. Those are things which would strengthen the existing civilian police review board,” Bronin continued.

While the budget meeting takes place, a protest is planned to start at 12 p.m. outside of City Hall.

Residents say they will continue to call on the city to defund HPD.

RELATED: Protests against racial inequality held in Hamden and around the state

RELATED: Connecticut Police Transparency and Accountability Task Force discuss reforms

RELATED: Biden promises police changes without stripping funding

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