To whom it may concern,
My name is [INSERT NAME] and I am a resident of Pleasanton. Our nation is in the midst of widespread upheaval over the systemic violence of policing, and the Bay Area has been at the forefront of much of this action. I'm writing to you today to demand that Pleasanton adopts a budget that redirects funding away from the police and towards prioritizing other programs--affordable housing for our homeless and low-income neighbors, mental health programs, rent suspension and cancellation during this pandemic, more funding for public schools and resources to ensure ALL students, especially our students of color, can continue learning during these uncertain times and in the future, and finally, more rehabilitative approaches to public health issues. By taking a preventative approach to stop violence in the community, Pleasanton would reduce the need for a police force. Pleasanton's needs must be addressed by the provision of care, and not by conflict or by the threat of violence.
Mayor Thorne stated in 2017, during his State of the City address, that Pleasanton “stands strong in its commitment to diversity and embraces what makes the city culturally unique.” Although the median income of households in Pleasanton places the majority of residents in the upper middle class, many members of our community live in tight quarters and on lean budgets--this before a pandemic stole three months of wages (and counting). Meanwhile, the Pleasanton Police Department is the single largest expenditure in the City’s General Fund. The city currently spends 24.5% of its budget on police—$29,674,035 in the last fiscal year—more than $13 million more than was spent on community development, which is allocated the least amount of funding aside from the library.
We’re not asking for much, we just want human-centered services. Research shows that a living wage, access to health services and treatment, educational opportunities, and stable housing are far more successful at promoting safe communities compared to police or prisons. Support for communities in need—especially our communities of color and low-income communities—is necessary now, more than ever. As such, we need more aggressive financial support to be directed to those areas. Where should that money come from? The projected $30+ million to be allocated towards PPD this fiscal year.
I am demanding that this money be reallocated from the police department because it is an inherently harmful organization that has not responded to reform. More training or diversity among police officers won’t end police brutality, nor will firing and charging individual officers. Look at the Minneapolis Police Department. Their department offers trainings for implicit bias, mindfulness and de-escalation, embraces community policing and officer diversity, uses body cameras, implements an early intervention system to identify problematic officers, and receives training around mental health crisis intervention. George Floyd was still murdered. Historically, police forces were created to protect the property of white-owned businesses and the wealthy and enforce white supremacy. Today, despite the diversification of police services, the main activity of police remains street patrol. Police rarely focus on “white collar” crime; instead, they protect the living, working and commercial arrangements that keep capitalism running, and the white, upper-class citizens that benefit from them. Because the fundamental role of the police is to defend this unequal system, it is impossible for police to protect and serve everyone equally. Now more than ever is the time to demilitarize and divest from police resources. Imagine if the money used to pay the salaries of police officers, who endlessly patrol public housing buildings and harass residents, was used to fund alternative emergency response programs: trained first responders to help in mental health crises, city employees to check in on homeless citizens in our parks, and trauma-informed crisis intervention teams to disarm and de-escalate gun-related conflicts. Now is the time to drop the dated ideal that police force is the only way to keep us safe.
I join the calls of those across the country to defund the police and invest in the health and safety of our community. I demand a budget that adequately and effectively meets the needs of impacted Pleasantonians during this trying and uncertain time, when livelihoods are on the line. I call on you to slash the PPD budget and instead, meaningfully reallocate funds towards social programs and resources that support housing, jobs, education, health care, child care, and other critical community needs. I demand a budget that supports community wellbeing, rather than empowers the police forces that tear them apart.
It is your duty to represent your constituents. I am urging you to completely revise the Pleasanton city budget for 2020-2021 fiscal year. Public opinion is with me.
Thank you for your time,
[YOUR NAME][YOUR ADDRESS]
[YOUR EMAIL][YOUR PHONE NUMBER]