August 10, 2018 06:30 PM
St. Paul police say calls for help are up this year.
Even so, on Thursday night, Mayor Melvin Carter announced he has no room in his 2019 budget proposal for any new officers on the force.
This comes after the chief of police asked for 50 additional officers earlier this summer in his annual report. The request was meant to free up the force for further community engagement training.
The chief said additions would cost $4.5 million - roughly the same amount the mayor wants put into the department for raises.
"That price tag would leave little room for other investments," Carter said Thursday night.
In June, the City Council approved raises for officers, starting officer pay around $62,000 annually and an annual salary of $83,000 by the time they've served ten years.
In the mayor's budget proposal, police officer salaries and benefits would increase by 5.5 percent from 2018 to 2019.
The police department's general fund would increase by $5.2 million to a total of $100.4 million, 88 percent of which covers salaries and benefits.
That's a $4.6 million dollar increase to 2018 officer salaries.
More than 30 community groups sent a letter to city leaders in July asking them, "to oppose any new funding for more St. Paul police officers" and instead invest in community programs like rec centers.
There are 626 officers on the St. Paul police force right now, serving a population of more than 309,000 people.
According to the city, that's just slightly below the national average.
Carter says that's enough for now.
"To be clear, the men and women who protect and serve our city with dignity do deserve our support," he said.
5 EYEWITNESS NEWS reached out to the Police Chief Todd Axtell for comment on the budget proposal.
A spokesman for the department says asking for 50 new officers isn't about making more arrests. It's to extend officer training in the community engagement unit to improve relationships throughout the city .
Updated: August 10, 2018 06:30 PM
Created: August 10, 2018 05:37 PM
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