Dear Mayor Tyer and City Councilors,
My name is [YOUR NAME] and I am a resident of Pittsfield. I’m writing in regard to the proposed budget increase for police funding in Pittsfield.
People all over the country have spoken out over the last few weeks outlining the reasons why policing is ineffective and even harmful, and the need to reduce the scope of policing nationwide. Hundreds of people who care about this city joined the Berkshire NAACP 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 crucial public services suffer. Pittsfield PD is one of the only city departments to see a funding increase in the proposed fiscal 2021 budget – up 5% to almost $11.5 million annually. The same budget reduces funding for Education by $1.4 million. Police Chief Wynn accurately identified some of the primary ways funding for the police harms the community in his June 11th interview with Northeast Public Radio when he attempted to defend increased funding for Pittsfield police – the lack of accountability in billing overtime and budgeting for vacant positions and that Pittsfield PD is “the first call anybody makes” for issues like substance abuse, homelessness and domestic violence. The proposed 2021 budget increase for the police department would only exacerbate the problem of armed officers unprepared to deal with these issues being the “first call” by underfunding other public services which could prevent or more effectively respond to these issues.
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 them self 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 am asking you to take action in the following ways:
- Reverse plans to increase funding for the Pittsfield Police Department.
- Reduce funding for the Pittsfield Police Department.
- Invest money that would have been allocated for policing to other crucial health and social services.
- 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.
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 Pittsfield behind in this historic moment.
[YOUR NAME][YOUR ADDRESS]
[YOUR EMAIL][YOUR PHONE NUMBER]
Guerino, Jack. “Pittsfield Council Wastes No Time Approving 10 Budget
Sections.” IBerkshires, 5 June 2020,
Landes, Josh. “Objecting To Calls To Defund, Chief Wynn Discusses Rising
Pittsfield Police Spending .” Northeast Public Radio, 11 June 2020,