Dear Scotts Valley City Council and Finance Department,
My name is [YOUR NAME], and I am a resident of Scotts Valley, California. Amidst the recent protests demanding justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless other Black Americans, it has become clear that the police are not filling the role that we expect them to. Too many Americans live in fear of the police and the power they often abuse, and are not benefiting from the "services" they provide. It has become apparent that reforms such as requiring body-cameras are inadequate to hold our criminal justice system accountable for police brutality and other forms of racism. Therefore, I demand further action: Defunding the SVPD in the 2021 budget and reallocating those funds to more effective community programs and preventative measures.
SVPD is overfunded and ineffectual, and often wastes money on programs that foster racism and reduce community involvement. To some degree, how can we blame them? They are expected to manage issues that they are not equipped to handle. Community programs and preventative measures can serve our community better, more safely, and for less money. For example, four programs that particularly need to be reallocated are PR endeavors, surveillance, swat teams, and D.A.R.E.
Public relations for the police department should be about communicating with the community and taking in their input, rather than using social media as an advertising opportunity or to further contribute to racial profiling through public fear-mongering. Therefore, what funds currently go towards PR endeavors should go towards creating new opportunities for the community to directly manage community safety, so that public does not have to take a backseat to the Police.
Recent developments in surveillance technology have heavily influenced the role of America’s police (much like the growth of social media). Studies have shown that People of Color are unequally surveilled and thus more likely to be interrogated or arrested. Scotts Valley should not spend money on technology that contributes to racism and the mass incarceration of People of Color.
Another example of misused money is SVPD's spending on high-tech gear and high-violence training. Only 7% percent of crime in Scotts Valley is classified as violent and in an even smaller fraction of those incidents would the SWAT team’s expertise have been useful. Violent crimes are reduced more effectively through preventative measures instead. For example, offering support within our town to those experiencing domestic abuse and sexual harassment, as well as sponsoring mental wellness programs and positive cultural environments within the individual neighborhoods would promote safety more effectively than expanded capacities for police violence.
Furthermore, the money spent from D.A.R.E should be reinvested into a program run by psychologists and experts in drug addiction. Cops don't understand the trauma and mental health issues that cause drug abuse. Instead, they act as authority figures, trained to arrest and punish drug usage, providing very little space for vulnerability and honesty. Well-funded programs run by drug abuse experts are more capable of fostering open conversations and preventing drug abuse in the first place.
There is a funding crisis currently across many cities in California including Scotts Valley. Many civil servants, including the police, fear for their jobs and if they will have enough to stay afloat during these trying times. Many will say that right now is not the time for "defunding." Yet, this financial uncertainty is exactly why it is so necessary for you to reallocate funds and tax dollars to programs that use them to their fullest potential.
The Scotts Valley City Council has a responsibility as our governing body to uphold its end of the social contract that promises the equal protection of its citizens’ rights. Without re-evaluating our systems, which are built upon bias and institutionalized discrimination, many citizens will be left disproportionately behind. Now is the time to join numerous other cities in defunding the police to seek peace through equality and equity. Enormous changes need to be made concerning the role of police in our community and the greater United States; the clearest path towards that is how we spend our money.
[Your Name][Your Address] [Your Email][Your Phone Number]