San Mateo County Officials,
My name is [YOUR NAME], and I am a resident of [YOUR CITY] in San Mateo County. This past week, our nation and community have been gripped by protests calling for an end to racism and anti-Blackness and a complete overhaul in our approach to criminal justice in America. I am demanding that my voice be heard, and that real change be made to the way this county allocates its resources.
In the county's recommended FY 2020-21 operating budget, $280M is allocated to the Sheriff's Office, up from $276M+ in the FY 2019-20 budget. This is despite a projected $65-100M deficit in the proposed budget from COVID-19. There is not just a need for police reform, but police defunding and abolition. The entire structure of the sheriff and police force is inherently corrupt and ineffective.
The average police recruit spends 58 hours learning how to shoot and only 8 hours learning how to de-escalate (Source: Campaign Zero). They are not trained or equipped to react to the vast majority of crises. Phillip McHarris (doctoral candidate focusing on race), argues that we must work towards a reality in which healthcare workers and emergency response teams handle substance abuse, domestic violence, homelessness, or mental health cases. Policies to “improve the police” are not enough, as there’s no evidence that implicit bias training or community relations initiatives help with reducing the abuses of policing (The Nation). We need to reimagine public safety to prioritize alternatives to conflict rather than defaulting to violence.
I demand that the County Supervisors begin meaningfully defunding the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office and reallocate those funds to programs proven to more effectively promote a safe and equitable community: community-based mental health services, substance abuse treatment services, affordable housing programs, and more. I demand a budget that reflects the actual needs of San Mateo County residents. As county officials, I ask you to propose and vote to expand on San Mateo's current efforts in healthcare, affordable housing, and restorative justice. It is your duty to represent your constituents. I am urging you to revise the San Mateo County budget for the next fiscal year.
Thank you for your time,
[YOUR PHONE NUMBER]