Dear Members of the City Council and Budget Department,
My name is [YOUR NAME], and I am a resident of Roanoke County. This past week, our nation has been gripped by protests calling for rapid and meaningful change with regard to police brutality, racism and anti-Blackness in America. I believe that the systemic changes we need can begin with defunding police departments and instead investing in community structures and alternatives to police force.
For FY 2020-2021, $12.3M has been allocated to the Roanoke County Police Department. While Roanoke County has been spending extraordinary amounts on policing, the community has not seen sufficient improvements to safety, homelessness, mental health, or affordability in our city. Instead, I see wasteful and harmful actions of our police.
I call on you to meaningfully restrict the RCPD budget and instead use those resources towards funding what our community needs to be safe and healthy: COVID-19 relief, affordable housing, education, healthcare (especially mental healthcare and resources), community centers, treatment, and community-led organizations. Currently the Public Assistance branch of Social Services only receives only $4.7M and sees no increase in funding over the previous year, and Public Health receives only $0.5M. These numbers are especially shocking in light of the heroin epidemic impacting this area of the state.
Roanoke County's public would be better served by dedicating resources to programs proven to be more effective at promoting safety and social equity than policing and incarceration--namely social programs and education.
We can be a beacon for other cities to follow if only we have the courage to change. Can I count on you to consider an alternative budget that puts a focus on social services?
[YOUR PHONE NUMBER]