The Philadelphia Police Department will see its most significant budget increase in several years, and the city will spend millions of dollars on antiviolence programs as leaders wrestle with some of the highest levels of gun violence in generations, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. The City Council passed a $5.8 billion budget that includes a $30 million budget increase for police. The agreement builds on Mayor Jim Kenney’s proposal o grant police a $23.7 million increase mostly to cover contractually obligated pay raises for officers. The council added line items for such expenses as recruitment and upgrades to the crime lab. The investments bring the Police Department’s allocation to nearly $800 million — the most of any city agency, and $150 million more than in 2016, when Kenney took office.
The public safety spending plan ended up sailing through Council with little public disagreement among members just two years after Council voted to effectively freeze police funding after the murder of George Floyd. The city’s legislative branch spent much of its negotiating capital this year debating the city’s tax structure, and several members won investments in other priorities, such as combatting quality-of-life issues. Most of the increase in the $788 million police budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 — $21.3 million — is for salaries and personnel costs agreed to last fall under a contract with the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge Five. It also includes nearly $3 million to upgrade police cell phones and laptops with applications that aid investigations. The council added $5 million for upgrades to the city’s forensics lab, which has long been described by the department as in disrepair and in need of modernization.