ESCONDIDO, Calif. (KGTV) - Escondido city leaders on Wednesday unanimously passed a $117 million budget that increases money for the police department.
More than $49 million will be set aside for the police budget, a roughly $2.7 million increase from last year. Escondido Police Chief Ed Varso said the increase would boost their staffing; the department plans to add six new positions.
"We know from data that our police department is one of the lowest funded, lowest staffed police departments in the county," Varso said.
He said the plan is to add three new positions to their community policing team, two for traffic, and one for dispatch.
"I think it's important to point out that positions added to the budget tonight were taken out of the budget last year," Varso added.
Many spoke out against the police budget, saying the money could be better spent. Several community members brought up the deadly officer-involved shooting from April, following a confrontation between an Escondido police officer and a homeless man armed with a metal pole as an example of other programs that need funding.
Leyel Malave, with the group We the People Escondido, said she'd rather see it go to other services.
"This is really about investing in our community," Malave said. "I think if we only invest in policing, we're only creating a bigger problem. It's very important we're investing in our community care programs that actually prevent crime, like after-school programs, health services, housing for the homeless."