Dear Mayor Narkiewicz and City Councilors,
My name is [YOUR NAME] and I am a resident of [YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD]. I’m writing in regard to the recent budget hearing to increase police funding.
Narkewicz’s proposed 0.28% cut to the current budget is not enough. I urge you to further cut the FY2021 Northampton Police Department funding. The money should NOT be put into the fiscal stability fund, but reallocated toward programs that benefit our community.
Hundreds of people have spoken to you over the week outlining the reasons why policing is ineffective and even harmful, and the need to reduce the scope of policing nationwide. Thousands of people who care about this city showed up to protest racial inequality perpetuated by law enforcement and I ask you to take this seriously.
In the middle of a pandemic and financial crisis whereby millions are jobless and at risk of illness, it is an affront to your constituents to increase funding to the police while other city employees are laid off. Spending $60,000 to have an armed officer direct traffic at the transfer station is a waste of resources when our healthcare workers do not have the equipment they need to deal with the pandemic and our schools are fighting for resources to create new learning environments for their students.
Policing is a paradox that creates the "crime" it aims to deter. A person who is houseless will have to break the law to survive because the police took all the money that would have otherwise provided affordable housing. A person struggling with addiction will be forced to steal because the police took all the money that would have otherwise provided access to treatment. A person in a mental health crisis will react with fear in the face of an armed officer with no skills relevant to helping them, increasing the chance they will cause harm to themself or others. We know for a fact that in every part of this country the detrimental effects of policing disproportionately harm Black people and communities of color. We must bring this violent cycle to an end.
I want you to take action on the following items immediately:
Reduce the Northampton Police Department’s annual budget by more than 35%.
Set up a committee to assess the needs of the city and how to reallocate funds.
Create a community oversight board with legal power.
Replace School Resource Officers with counselors and eliminate the DARE Program.
Establish community-led Restorative Justice programs in schools.
Eliminate police-based mental health and addiction services.
Place a moratorium on surveillance technology used to police political activity.
Place a moratorium on ICE collaborations.
Stop using COP-LINK, a database that shares information with immigration.
The movement to defund and reimagine the responsibilities of the police is not isolated. Los Angeles is taking action and Minneapolis has already voted to entirely disband their police department, despite the fact that they were considered nationally to be a “model” department. Training does not work. Reform does not work. Defunding is the solution we need. Do not leave Northampton behind in this historic moment.
Thank you for your time,
[YOUR PHONE NUMBER]