Don’t cut the mayor’s public safety budget

On Monday, Mayor Wu sent her latest FY25 budget back to the City Council, which had cut roughly $15 million from her $4.6 billion plan the week before in a 10-3 vote. The mayor politely, but prudently, rejects almost all of the council’s cuts, including ones that targeted public safety spending. The council will take up the amended budget this week at its Wednesday meeting and – in our view – would be well advised to follow the mayor’s guidance, particularly in her effort to restore funding needed for policing our neighborhoods.

Boston, as the mayor notes in her letter to the council, “is now the safest major city in the country,” a reference, in part, to the current homicide rate, which is among the lowest in years and, compared to other US cities, way below average.

Councillors who persist in pruning funds from the BPD might want to consider the adage “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?”

Wu made her case this way in writing on Monday: “New funding is needed for the BPD to operationalize contract reforms in modernizing paid details, upgrading technology, and other planned improvements. Our record-low levels of violence are tied to well-resourced public safety efforts, beautiful parks and public spaces, and comprehensive programming to serve every generation of our community.”

But, as Wu points out, it’s also tied to ongoing reforms at the BPD itself, which even loyalists would agree is constantly in need of improvement, like any government agency. Her roughly 2 percent spending increase for the BPD is a modest, but essential expenditure.

From the neighborhood perspective, the well-documented drop in violent crime belies a harsh reality: While it’s true that our city is relatively safe compared to other cities, it’s far from perfect. And we absolutely need a well-resourced, fully staffed police force to meet the many challenges that our readers know too well.

Take a look at this week’s edition of The Reporter. A barrage of bullets in Mattapan on Sunday narrowly missed a mom and her carful of kids; a man was shot while lying on his couch last weekend; and, perhaps most troubling, a charter school on Centre Street has moved to “remote-only” for the end of its school year in the aftermath of the latest gunplay just steps away around Shawmut station.

It’s outrageous that any school building in our city should feel so menaced by gunfire near its campus that it must close its doors for fear of taking casualties. And, as The Reporter’s Seth Daniel documents in a story this week, this is not the first time that this specific school and its student body have been threatened.

In it present form, the mayor’s budget is a well-balanced and fiscally sound document that has already incorporated many helpful ideas from councillors in the months-long process that has led to this week’s debate.

In order for it to pass by a veto-proof majority, the mayor will need at least two more votes from the councillors who supported their colleagues’ cuts. We hope that the council will see fit to embrace this opportunity to revisit their most recent vote, restore necessary funding – especially for the BPD and Boston Fire – and not override the mayor’s veto.

Subscribe to the Dorchester Reporter