Dear Mayor Tom Beamish and La Habra City Council members,
My name is [YOUR NAME] and I am a concerned resident of La Habra. I am emailing in support of the nation wide initiative to defund police departments across the United States and redistribute funds to community based public safety measures. These include but are not limited to: alleviating homelessness, mental health, domestic abuse, sexual assault, and affordable housing. I have seen my communities' pleas for help and change go ignored for far too long.
For over a week, protests across the nation have called for an end to systematic racism in the criminal justice system that has stoked its fire on this country for far too long. I am writing to demand real change in the La Habra criminal justice system. The La Habra police department's total budget of $20 million makes up 45.5% of the general city budget, according to the annual budget of 2019-2020. This funding should instead go to other public services that better our community while providing basic services to every resident in La Habra and ensuring their physical and financial safety.
The Housing Authority, which "is responsible for managing the City's two mobile home parks, the low/moderate income housing program... and other affordable and homeless housing needs" (La Habra City Budget VII), actually had a 1.2% decrease from 2018 to 2019, while the police received a 2.7% increase. So while other services are being decreased, the police continues to get an increase on their annual budget.
Then we have the Police Chief who made $172,738 in 2018 (p. 3 of the annual salary) while a public teacher in La Habra makes an average of $64,916 their first year and barely reach $114,000 after 25 years of teaching, according to the La Habra City School District Salary website. In what world can you justify having a uniformed officer make twice as much as a public school teacher in this city, when that teacher is in charge of shaping every minor's life?
The budget even states, "Considering that over two-thirds of the City's General Fund budget is dedicated to public safety alone the ongoing increases in public safety costs will potentially impact the City's ability to hire and maintain police officers... the City may have few choices before being forced to consider significant cuts to police, fire, and emergency response systems" (4). So I am only asking you to follow through with those statements and actually cut the funds to police and put those funds towards the benefit of the community.
I demand immediate reduction of the police department budget, demilitarization of our forces, and the reallocation of funds from the police department to community-led health and safety strategies. Put your trust in the hands of the community. It is your duty to represent the will of the people, and I am urging you to immediately revise the La Habra operating budget to one that doesn’t put an emphasis on the police, but rather puts an emphasis on the betterment of the people.
I have seen this city turn its focus away from the safety and welfare of residents and instead put towards big businesses and the police department. After years of misguided priorities, we must stand together in solidarity and reimagine public safety in La Habra.
[YOUR NAME][YOUR ADDRESS]
[YOUR EMAIL][YOUR PHONE NUMBER]