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Why law enforcement spending will likely remain the same across Broome County

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(WBNG) -- As the national conversation shifts to how police departments are funded, 12 News is digging deeper into the issue here at home.

A review of five municipal budgets (Binghamton, Johnson City, Endicott, Vestal and Broome County) found law enforcement agencies make up a large portion of public spending. Johnson City had the lowest total of police funding at less than 10% of the total budget, while Binghamton and Vestal were both slightly more than 13%. However, these percentages are likely much lower than the actual totals, as they do not include allocations for things like retirement, health insurance or social security benefits for police.

The Village of Endicott's budget did include these types of funding, resulting in roughly 21% of its budget being spent on police. Broome County's budget also included these allocations, and even with this spending a little less than 10% of the total $400M budget was spent specifically on law enforcement; it's worth noting the county budget encompasses more projects and departments than any of the smaller municipal budgets.

When asked if they would consider defunding the police in part or in whole, none of the municipal leaders interviewed for this story outright supported the idea. Johnson City Mayor Greg Deemie said his village's police department is already pretty frugal in its spending, and does a good job of balancing typical policing with more proactive, community based measures. Broome County Executive Jason Garnar said the county sheriff's office's budget has remained stable over the past few years and accounts for a low percentage of the overall budget. Binghamton Mayor Rich David said the 2020 city budget has already been passed, and as such no changes would be made mid-year. Endicott Mayor Linda Jackson said she fully supports her police department, and warned defunding law enforcement would lead to vigilante justice.

"They're taking away our guns, and now they're taking away our police," Jackson told 12 News Tuesday. "They're taking away all our safety precautions, not (allowing us) to do it ourselves."

Both Mayor Deemie and Mayor Jackson said they supported the recent protesters and their right to freedom of speech, but strongly condemned any rioting or looting.

Josh Rosenblatt

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