Prince William County police

Police Budget Debated in Prince William County

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Republicans in Prince William County, Virginia, are trying to stop the discussion about possibly cutting police to funding to help fund other social services.

"This is a big deal,” Prince William County Supervisor Pete Candland (R) said. “This is something we need to be concerned about."

The county is building a comprehensive plan to identify what's most important over the next four years. Public input weighs into the plan.

At Tuesday night's board meeting, Candland pushed a resolution to eliminate any notion of defunding the police from the plan.

“Let's make it clear for our strategic plan development team about where we stand and show our support and commitment to our police force," he said.

The resolution failed along party lines.

Board Chair Ann Wheeler (D) says eliminating language from the plan is a first amendment issue.

“Think it was unnecessary to try to strike language that hadn't even been agreed on or discussed," she said.

D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham, who recently was hired to lead Prince William's police department, was outspoken against the same topic in the District earlier this year.

“We need to think carefully and thoughtfully before we do a politically correct, knee-jerk reaction to what's going on in other parts of the country," he told WTOP.

Candland said this topic came up during Newsham's interview with Prince William County.

"That I'll continue to work to make sure that we're fully funding, or to actually increase funding to the Prince William County Police Department," he said.  

Democrats point to the most recent county budget, which was slashed by $40 million compared the prior year.

While the police budget is slightly less than the year prior, the department was given money for specific areas it requested, Wheeler said.

"I support funding other social services,” Wheeler said. “I don't know if reallocating resources from the police is the best way to do that."

Prince William County's comprehensive plan is not binding, so regardless of whether it includes language about how to fund police, the board will ultimately make that decision during the budget process.

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