Iowa City considers 2.5 percent police budget increase with new outreach staffers

The city’s fiscal year 2022 budget proposal includes a 2.5 percent budget increase for the police to pay for two new community policing positions and increases in previously bargained staff salary.


Katie Goodale

Iowa City Police Department vehicles are seen on July 9, 2019.

Rylee Wilson, News Editor

The Iowa City Police Department budget will increase by 2.5 percent for fiscal year 2022 if approved by the Iowa City City Council as part of the fiscal 2022 budget.

There are two new budgeted positions in the fiscal year 2022 plan for the police department: a full time Street Outreach and Engagement Specialist, and a part-time Community Outreach Assistant to engage with the city’s immigrant and refugee population.

The two new positions added are proposed in the city’s preliminary plan to restructure the Iowa City Police Department.

The 256-page document states that for the police budget in fiscal year 2022, 86 percent of the overall increase is associated with new positions, increases in previously negotiated staff salary increases, and state-mandated pension payments.

“Comparing the various divisions of the Department, the largest increases percentage wise in budgets will be Crime Prevention, Records, and Investigations,” the document states. “The largest division of the Department, the Patrol Division, will see less than a 1% increase in overall budget.”

The overall proposed budget for the police department for fiscal year 2022 is $16,181,165. In fiscal 2021, the budget was $15,777,126. The 2022 fiscal year begins July 1, 2021.

“Overall, this is very much a kind of hold the line budget. The total year over year expenditure increase is 2.5 percent,” City Manager Geoff Fruin said during a Saturday budget work session.

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The Iowa City Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

At the work session, Mayor Pro-Tem Mazahir Salih suggested moving the Street Outreach and Engagement Specialist position out of the police budget to separate the community safety efforts from police funding and lower the police budget.

“They will be dealing with the homeless, because we don’t want the police to deal with them,” Salih said. “The main reason we took the police out from that is because the police were responding, and we want community organizations or civilians that can respond to the homeless population.”

The council ultimately chose to move the position to be under the budget of Neighborhood Development Services, which Fruin said would reduce the police budget by $35,000.

The position will be an employee of local organization Shelter House, but will work closely with the police department.

During public comment at the Jan. 5 city council meeting, several community members expressed disappointment and anger with the increase in the police budget, as well as the recently proposed plan to restructure the police.

“The only way you can force police to stop needlessly responding to situations where they are not needed, and where their very presence can escalate the situation, is to take away their funding and give it to unarmed, trained professionals that have no ties to law enforcement,” Iowa City resident Oliver Weilen said.

Several speakers on Jan. 5 also said they felt unheard by the city council after a summer of protests in the city called for the police department to be defunded.

“How can you watch your constituents get attacked and brutalized and draw the conclusion that the guys with guns and chemical weapons need more resources? I’ve called this place my home my entire life, and this proposal is a betrayal to the people you’re supposed to protect,” Iowa City resident Harry Manaligod said.