Councilors Reject Police Cuts, Including NEMLEC

Published by Chris Wangler - June 13, 2020.

Calls to defund police departments have intensified in the wake of nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd and other victims of police brutality.

This week, Waltham city councilors held a final “cutting session” for Mayor Jeannette McCarthy’s FY2021 city budget. Would any cuts be made to Waltham Police?

Ward 7 Councilor Kristine Mackin proposed roughly $70,000 in line item cuts on Monday, but her colleagues on the five-member Finance Committee voted against them.

Ward 7 Councilor Kristine Mackin (left), who serves on the Finance Committee; and Councilor-at-Large and City Council President Paul Brasco (right). Screengrabs from the June 8 Finance Committee Budget Cutting Session.


Their votes sent a quiet message of support to the department and Chief Keith MacPherson, who has made statements condemning the Minneapolis officers involved in Floyd’s death and disclosing WPD’s use of force and de-escalation protocols.

Mackin proposed to cut $14,500 in funding for the Northeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council (NEMLEC), which shares resources among roughly 65 law enforcement agencies in the area.

According to Chief MacPherson, Waltham has roughly a dozen NEMLEC officers. There is one SWAT officer, seven members on the Rapid Response Team (RRT), including one sergeant and one K9 officer, and five members on the Motor Unit. [See photo captions for more NEMLEC information.]

During Monday’s Finance Committee meeting, Mackin said she understood that NEMLEC provides additional training or equipment that are not available locally in Waltham.

“However, I am also aware that NEMLEC has provided additional security forces to the Boston Police Department recently, which have been extremely controversial due to their actions against peaceful protesters in downtown Boston,” she said.

Later, Councilor Mackin also proposed cutting $55,000 in ammunition for the department.

Before the votes, City Council President Paul Brasco, who is not a member of the committee, gave a speech condemning all acts of police brutality but opposing any cuts to public safety funding.

“Because of the actions of the few, we can’t take it out on the many,” Brasco said.

Councilors then voted against the $69,500 in cuts.

Mackin was the only councilor on the committee to vote for the cuts. Councilors Kathy McMenimen, Anthony LaFauci, Joey LaCava and Carlos Vidal all voted against them.