Dear Mayor De La Isla, Topeka City Councilors, and City Manager Brent Trout,
My name is [YOUR NAME] and I am a resident of Topeka. I am writing to demand that the Topeka City Council adopt a city budget that prioritizes community well-being, and redirects funding away from the police.
As you know, in the 2019 budget, the City of Topeka allocated an increase of over $4 million to fund the Topeka Police Department. In the 2020 budget, the City of Topeka increased the Police Department budget another $700 thousand. The TPD budget equates to an inordinate 42.43% of our taxpayers contributions to the city’s general fund, at over $40 million .
I demand that the City Council begin meaningfully defunding the Topeka Police Department and reallocating those funds to programs which effectively promote a safe and equitable community, such as the YWCA Center for Safety and Empowerment and Community Action. We need funding for community-based mental health services, substance abuse treatment services, and affordable housing programs, not police.
History has shown that police “reform” is not enough. The 2020 Topeka City Budget includes a desire to promote public safety and to shift public perception of health/safety in Topeka; this cannot be done through police 'reform' alone. We must take a hard look at the way the current system in place fails to serve—and in fact actively harms—our community and come together to reimagine the role of police in our city.
I am urging you to completely revise the current budget as well as the 2021 budget, and to invest our taxpayer money for the people, not the police. As an elected official, I trust that you will do the right thing for the community that elected you. This is a moment for you to step up and show that you care for our community.
Thank you for your time,