Ward 5 City Councilor Mark Niedergang: Focusing on Cutting Police Budget

Next week, the City Council begins its consideration of the Mayor’s proposed FY 2021 budget. I will be focusing on the police budget.

The Minneapolis police murder of George Floyd has unleashed an outpouring of anger about policing in America. And especially about the way the police and the criminal justice system mistreat people of color. This has amplified the powerful voices that have been calling for fundamental & radical changes in the way we think about policing.

This process had already started in Somerville over the past few years. Mayor Joe Curtatone’s declaration on June 3 that “systemic racism is a public health and safety emergency” and the 10-point policy plan that accompanied it is a major step forward. I look forward to working with Mayor Curtatone and my Council colleagues to enact these proposals and more. (See https://www.somervillema.gov/policereform)

Over 3,000 people have signed the petition “Somerville: Fund Public Services Before Police.” I am reading hundreds of emails I have received in support of this initiative. I am also studying proposals for changes in policing that will increase safety and well-being in our communities, especially for people of color and low-income people. The time has clearly come for a reconceptualization of how we do policing in America. I will work with community residents & government to re-envision what that means for the Somerville Police Department (SPD).

Last June, I made a motion for a $600,000 cut in the Mayor’s proposed police budget, but that motion did not pass. (The Council did cut $160,000.) I suspect this year will be different. I will be looking for larger reductions in the police budget this year, especially since the City budget will take a major hit due to revenue shortfalls from the Covid 19 pandemic.

But I am not in favor of disbanding or defunding the SPD. We need a police department. I know the SPD and its leaders. I worked in the SPD as the Grant Manager from 1995-1998. Much of the money I raised helped support the first steps in community policing. Community policing has changed policing for the better.

The Somerville Police Department is far better than most, and has been on the cutting edge of police reform. There are certainly problems that need to be fixed and policies that need to be reconsidered. There is much room for improvement. And I continue to believe that a significant amount of money in the police budget can be better spent on other necessary community services in Somerville.

You will hear more from me about this in the coming weeks.

13 thoughts on “Ward 5 City Councilor Mark Niedergang: Focusing on Cutting Police Budget”

  1. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiight, did you read articles about all that???? Cuz it was articles that made you question the fire departments budget.

  2. Peter Lucas said it so well today. “Forget about the politicians defunding the police; it is the police who should be defunding the politicians.” Couldn’t agree more!

  3. He wants to defund the police so no one walks in his bedroom again while entertaining his guest.

  4. 2 things…
    (1) This picture is eerily similar to the photo Courtney O’Keefe has on her social media accounts. She put hers up first.
    (2) You had no issue at first supporting the defunding of the rec department now you won’t defund police.

  5. Cutting the budget isn’t the solution, The officers need to be trained and learned about racism. They have to start looking at everyone as equal not the color of the person skin . So Mark we shouldn’t cut the budget so you can get more bike lanes and cause more traffic jams with more bus lanes.

  6. I think we should look at defunding the city councilors and the mayors office first as they are the head of the rotting fish of Somerville. If they had integrity and ethics they would set an example.
    Remember Somerville leads the way!

  7. It’s funny how the work he did for SPD was good but he along with JT Scott have been the biggest voices against the police department. I am glad Mark doesn’t want to get rid of the Police Department because it’s people like him that would be the first victims of the lawlessness that would result in a world without police. Weak!

    1. Mark will make sure the police department will still exist. They may be needed in an important emergency like escorting bikers to bars to drink. Mind you it takes about 5 cruisers to get them to the bar but only one after drinking to get them home?

  8. Mark while this whole covid pandemic occurred you were emlisting people to come by your house and pickup dear friend cards to elect a Democratic President.
    How insulting to the Veterans, elderly and others who were impacted either by a deceased relative or someone who suffered during these very trying times.
    Lets educate our community about the gun wars occurring in our city. Where there have been shootings in the neighborhood’s such as Prospect hill, Jaques St,Temple st and other Somerville streets from here to Cambridge.
    We have not heard one word on how the community the residents are being protected except you now are sharing streets. The neighborhoods are not safe, the streets have not been repaired for anyone to pass safely from motorists, bicyclist, elderly, disabled and families.
    Thats right we are safe there are gun sensors all around the areas mentioned especially where the Mayor lives.
    Lets defund those that were in Davis Square when the bank was robbed and it caused community chaos. Lets defund the police who answer a medical, fire or other emergency that arises before soneone else.
    Not every white, tan or black person is bad it takes a moment at a time for poor judgement or a complete bad person to do something bad.
    Our community has been very acceptable to change, understanding and RESPECT OF LIFE in general. The problem is when something bad occurs there needs to be blame not education, training, and healing.
    You took a paycheck from the city when you no longer employeed. Should you have gone to jail? Should every person that acts or thinks like you be punished the same.
    Lets act like responsible community leaders and members work together dont assume everybody is bad. It was clear what happened to George Floyd was wrong and murder but to move forward you need to rejuvenate a community for all.
    Honestly you should resign and move where your money ( family investments ) come from and let Somerville prosper

  9. This is the same person that told cops to “put the fear of god” into people who parked in Somerville at a traffic commission meeting Hmmmmmmmmm hahaha lol

  10. As I sat having breakfast this morning with my wife she was asking me if we should get a gun. I have been saying no for a long time even though we have had a couple of murders very close to my house and stabbings. So here I am int he afternoon and now have made a complete U turn. Now it is not just a gun but how many? It also falls in line as to why so many people here are looking to the suburbs. Why not just tie the hands of the police behind this back and send them to be target in the shooting range? Granted we have some bad apples. So we have to kill off the entire orchard? I wouldn’t blame them if they handed in their badge and weapon. We have some bad protesters, should all of them be treated badly. Both sides may need some work but there is a point where it borders on insanity. Next we will call 911 and recorded voice will say, we send you our prayers?

  11. mark fails to tell people is that he was the only person to be terminated by then mayor mike capuano for failing as a grant manager.

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