To the Syracuse Common Council and to Mayor Ben Walsh,
Hi, my name is [NAME] and I am a resident of [TOWN]. I am asking you to reallocate money away from the Syracuse Police Department.
According to a 2018 U.S. Census Bureau Report, the city of Syracuse was identified as having one of the highest poverty rates in the nation (31.8%) . It is necessary to emphasize that those residents living in poverty are disproportionately Black.
In order to improve communal safety; we must publicly recognize that poverty, race, and crime are intersectional systemic issues that disproportionately affect Black Americans. Research shows that a living wage, access to health services, social programs, affordable housing, as well as employment and educational opportunities are more effective and cost-efficient at promoting public safety than policing and incarceration.
Yet, despite our staggeringly high poverty rate, and the known racial disparities regarding poverty, the City of Syracuse’s Budget continues to fund its’ Police Department at an increased rate which amounts to more than all of these effective community-enriching departments combined.
For example, the Syracuse Police Budget proposed for 2021 is set to be increased to an approximate $49,416,893 . Meanwhile, Departments with the ability to directly promote communal safety are underfunded. I request you to consider that instead of inflated funding for the police, this money from our proposed 2021 budget should be used more effectively through increased funding for:
“Department of Neighborhood Business Development”, which works to ensure safe and affordable housing for the community. This department received a decrease in proposed funding for 2021 from $539,992 to $488,192 .
“Syracuse Opportunity Works”, which places Syracuse youth into employment-based opportunities prompting the development of basic work and interpersonal skills. This Department only received $61,873 in proposed funding for the 2021 budget .
“Division of Minority Affairs”, which helps promote women and minority businesses in our community. This department only received $90,582 in proposed funding .
“Division of Recreation and Youth Programs”, responsible for all public programs in the City of Syracuse which includes physical, social, cultural, and creative programs for all ages. This department only received $3,979,706 in proposed funding .
The funding for these departments combined comprises approximately $4,620,353, making up only 1.8% of proposed 2021 budget spending, compared with the 19% of budget spending allotted to the Syracuse Police Department . Not only is this spending gap an irresponsible and ineffective use of constituent’s tax dollars, but it is also counterintuitive to the goal of promoting public safety in our community. Public safety measures implemented by police departments often escalate violence and are racially discriminatory towards non-white community members, specifically Black residents.
The City of Syracuse has already identified at least 8 million dollars in savings by cutting police overtime; I ask that you please consider other funding inefficiencies that exist within the police department. This funding could then be redistributed to departments who are effective in enacting meaningful change in our community.
In sum, I demand an intentional redistribution of police department funds towards providing our community members with better access to affordable housing, neighborhood development, social programs, as well as employment and educational opportunities. Only when you implement this priority shift in funding will you ensure, as elected representatives of our community, that you are truthfully moving towards building a safer and healthier community for all.
Thank you for your courtesies,
[YOUR PHONE NUMBER]