According to the July 14 Fall River City Council Agenda, Mayor Coogan is requesting the city council shift $480,000, to include $280,233 of police salaries, to community maintenance expenses and insurance.
The request comes days after Mayor Coogan held a press conference with Fall River Police Chief Cardoza and Bristol District Attorney Quinn to address the spike in crime in Fall River, particularly gunshots within the city nearly doubling year over year in May and June.
When asked for comment on Saturday, Mayor Coogan explained that the $280,233 was unused police overtime money available because of COVID-19. With courts closed, police officers spent less time dealing with court cases. There was also a freeze on hiring, so the dozen vacant Fall River police positions remained unfilled. Coogan also explained that thanks to the federal CARES Act money, the police budget was bigger this fiscal year than last year.
The following reason was given for the funds needing to be shifted:
In a time where there is a vocal political movement to defund the police and a spike in crime in Fall River, the shifting of police funds to non-public safety items does seem like bad timing. When asked this week at the press conference if he would defund the police, Mayor Coogan said in strong terms that he would not. While this budget transfer of police funds likely doesn’t weaken the Fall River police force, activists could politically seize on this budget move as something to make permanent. Additionally, transferring money away from police days after holding a press conference to inform the public that there is a spike in crime in Fall River, does send a mixed message. If the rise in crime continues, wouldn’t that money be a valuable reserve?