Criminal JusticeLocal NewsDallas Councilwoman Defends Record on Police Funding, Opponent Says Police Deserve ‘More Resources’

Candidates to represent Dallas City Council District 9 traded bitter accusations.
March 17, 2021
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With less than two months to go before city elections in Dallas, District 9 Councilwoman Paula Blackmon defended her record on police funding while one of her opponents, John Botefuhr, alleged that she had misled her constituents.

Blackmon addressed the public in a letter she posted to social media on March 10.

“As many of you may have been exposed to lies, distortions, and mischaracterizations regarding my voting record and my positions regarding public safety, I wanted to take a moment early in this campaign cycle to set the record straight,” Blackmon wrote.

“Let me be explicitly clear: I DO NOT support ‘defunding’ the police. In fact, I voted for more than a $10+ million increase in the police department’s budget this year over last,” Blackmon asserted. “Our vote on funding [the Dallas Police Department] was actually pointed to by [Gov. Greg Abbott] as an example of what Texas cities should do to support public safety and local police departments.”

Blackmon also criticized an interest group, Keep Dallas Safe, for not being based in Dallas and for allegedly “having an ax to grind — literally.”

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In a letter to supporters posted to Facebook on March 12, Botefuhr accused Blackmon of “building a campaign based on falsehoods.”

“I don’t know about you, but I am fed up with the lies,” Botefuhr wrote.

“I have talked to a lot of folks in our community and know that they aren’t looking to cut the police department’s budget, especially not while we are battling record-high violent crime,” Botefuhr wrote emphatically. “We want more resources put into the department so the crime trends can go in the other direction.”

Botefuhr cited a memo Blackmon had authored on June 9, 2020, that asked City Manager T.C. Broadnax to find ways to “reallocate public safety funding to equitable community funding.”

In her memo, Blackmon took the position that police are often called upon to perform duties that should not be their responsibility.

“We hear many of our constituents’ calls to ‘defund’ the Dallas Police Department. We understand that this call is a demand to address the deep root of our nation’s unjust practices and institutions and the need for us, as a city, to repair the harm of structural oppression. It is time to reimagine public safety,” Blackmon wrote in the memo last summer.

When the Dallas City Council chose to cut $7 million from the police overtime budget in September, Blackmon voted in favor of the cut. She also voted yes on the final draft of the budget itself.

The Texan has reached out to a third candidate in the race, Judy Kumar, to request her position on police funding.

Kumar recently criticized the Biden administration’s decision to place up to 3,000 unaccompanied minors at Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, saying the “police force is already strained.”

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) sent backup to Dallas in November to assist with the city’s crime wave.

All seats on the council will be up for a vote on May 1. Council members Adam Medrano, Lee Kleinman, and Jennifer Gates are not eligible to run for reelection due to term limits.

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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a reporter for The Texan. He has coached high school competitive speech and debate and has also been involved in community theater and politics. A native Texan, Hayden served as a delegate at the Republican Party of Texas Convention in 2016. He is on track to receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Liberty University. In his free time, Hayden is known to take walks around the neighborhood while listening to random music on Spotify.