Dear Mayor Hollingsworth and members of the Hyattsville City Council,
My name is [X] and I'm a Hyattsville resident living in Ward [X]. I am writing to demand that in the upcoming fiscal year the city of Hyattsville eliminate funding for the city's police department. We live in a truly multicultural city, however, arrests and police harassment are largely borne by our communities of color. Given that Prince George's County is one of the wealthiest minority-majority counties in the country, this is unacceptable and anathema to the progressive views that our residents hold true.
Over the course of the past three fiscal years there has been a 23% increase on spending for the police department--an increase that is at odds with stagnation in other areas of governance that are more impactful on residents' quality of life, safety, and stability. In FY20 spending on the police department comprised 26% of the entire budget for the city. This amount represents more than $450 in spending per resident for police services that largely do not improve their quality of life, and in fact too often detract from it. In the same budget that allocates more than 1/4 of our city's funding to police, the city of Hyattsville is spending 25 times LESS on community development programs like youth initiatives, the arts and public health/recreation.
This is an imbalance that can only be righted by stripping funding from the police department. Rather than spending several million dollars to purchase and retrofit a building for a new police headquarters, the city should be spending that money in order to increase services for public safety such as educational initiatives, mental health programs, ensuring access to affordable housing in all 5 wards of Hyattsville, and doing more to support and promote employment and vocational training programs.
The state of Maryland has the highest number of Black men incarcerated per capita, and the city of Hyattsville police department plays a role in this sobering statistic. We have seen numerous videos of police brutality within our county, including a 2019 officer-involved shooting by a Prince George's County officer here in Hyattsville that resulted in the death of a Black man. Why should the police be funded given their history of violence within our community? In our schools, school resource officers contribute to the school to prison pipeline and continue to make our children feel unsafe. Hyattsville police officers should be removed, immediately, from all public schools in the city beginning this Fall when the 2020-2021 academic year commences.
Your job as elected officials is to take action to make the city of Hyattsville a better place to live for ALL residents. Today I am asking you to stand with me and defund the city of Hyattsville police department and allocate those dollars to social programs that will make Hyattsville, per one of our city's mottos, A Good Place to Live.
[YOUR NAME][YOUR ADDRESS]
[YOUR EMAIL][YOUR PHONE NUMBER]