SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WHSM) -- The Springfield City Council began its second night of budget discussions Tuesday night with fallout from Monday night's vote against funding for a new shooting range for the Police Department.
Councilor Orlando Ramos said the Police Department’s budget will likely be discussed at the meeting Tuesday.
He said the shooting range was under the Facilities Department item line which was taken up Monday.
As calls for change in police departments grow louder across the country following the death of George Floyd, the Springfield City Council has taken a stand and voted Monday night to cut more than $800,000 from the city budget for a new police shooting range.
“It sends a terrible message to the people that have been marching our streets and contacting us and talking to us and demanding police accountability,” Ramos said. “It would send a terrible message to those people that the first major experience for the Springfield Police Department is a shooting range. I mean, it is tone-deaf.”
Western Mass News obtained the mayor’s fiscal year 2020-21 recommended budget.
Under the Facilities Department was a “professional service” item showing a budget of $809,000.
Ramos said that would be for leasing space for the shooting range over the next 20 years coming out to be more than $16 million.
The Springfield Police Department said right now they use a range in the basement of police headquarters.
The department said the range is at least 60 years old and presents health issues if used for prolonged periods of time.
Officers also go to outdoor ranges.
Ramos said the money spent could be put to better use considering the city is looking into building a new headquarters in the next few years, which would also include a shooting range.
“We want to see more police training,” Ramos said. “We would like to see more deescalating training for the Springfield Police Department. We would like to see more diversity training in police departments, and we would like to see more job opportunities for people in the community.”
A statement from Springfield’s Chief Administrative and Financial Officer said:
“We are going to look at all our options, including moving forward with the least. We will work with the council this summer and provide a cost-benefit analysis to demonstrate the needs.”
Western Mass News reached out to the mayor’s office for a comment. His office said the mayor did not want to comment yet since the FY2021 budget is still being voted on.