Black Lives Matter march in Calgary, June 3, 2020. Photo credit: Jon Yee
Please email your councillors to show your support today, to make sure that they pass the Community Safety Investment Framework and provide more funding for our communities.
Check out the petition map! Over 2,000 Calgarians from all across the city have signed our petition calling on City Council to reallocate Calgary Police funding to reinvest throughout our communities, to rebuild trust and to rectify systemic barriers.
Read the message Defund2Fund delivered to City Council this week alongside our 2,000+ signature strong petition in advance of their Budget deliberations👇
We must always begin from a position of humility. Thank you for continuing to provide the opportunity for the public to have input into the challenging work done by City Administration. The Defund2Fund Coalition came together during a very contentious year; however, the systemic discrimination faced by marginalized communities that brought us together has persisted since the very first stone was laid at City Hall.
Let’s begin by setting the record straight. Defund2Fund does not shy away from those contentious words, “Defund the Police.” Those words are a part of our reality. It is very simple. The Calgary Police Service (CPS), like many systems at play in Calgary, have consistently been a marginalizing force. We cannot forget that the very land we live on was gained through enforced state violence against Indigenous peoples. And the impacts of that historical violence reverberate through our colonial justice system today, through the overrepresentation of Indigenous peoples in custody, and the blatant disregard for Indigenous justice systems consistent with Treaty and Indigenous rights of Indigenous peoples. Colonial violence sets the stage for the issues we are experiencing today.
The safety systems in Calgary that are meant to ensure our citizens are secure and cared for are currently underfunded, understaffed, undertrained, and outgunned by their need across our communities. Instead of supporting these programs, City Council (not alone in our national landscape) have left it to the CPS to fill this void. The CPS is overworked, undertrained, and in many ways, unaware of their role in the systemic abuses faced by marginalized communities across Calgary.
Yes, we have said Defund the Police. This is because we believe that money can be spent elsewhere and that there are better services available to support the communities in need. Change must come at a cost. That cost should come from the organization that has been tasked to care for those communities in need, and has failed in those aspects of its duties. Let the CPS do their job, not the job of our social institutions.
We have strong support:
- 15 Black, Indigenous, People of Colour, Non-People of Colour and 2SLGBTQ+ organizations came together to form the Defund2Fund Coalition to reallocate 30% of the CPS budget to communities. Each organization represents a unique facet of our Calgary community
- In only a few hours, over 60 people wrote Council supporting reallocation of at least 5% ($20 million) of the CPS budget to fund a Community Safety Investment Framework, which Council approved on November 3
- 2,000+ Calgarians have signed our petition to reallocate 30% of the CPS budget to communities
We are asking Calgary City Council to reallocate a portion of the existing CPS budget - the $401 million budgeted for 2020 - to fund the community services we need.
Defund to Rebuild
- The Calgary City Budget needs to reflect the values of its citizens. It is clear that Calgarians support increased funding for programs for marginalized communities. Some leaders try to polarize the public with incendiary comments despite supporting reallocation in other instances - but when asked directly about the goal and not the name, it is clear that everyone agrees—we need to better fund the support systems for racialized and marginalized people.
Defund to Invest
- There are many social programs that exist to support Calgarians, but there is also a very large blind spot that Calgarians cannot ignore. Not all communities are served equally by the systems as they have been designed. Calgary City Council must invest in building culturally responsive infrastructure that meets the changing needs of a more diverse Calgary.
- We must invest in equity. This is not about equal distribution of funds—it is about ensuring that those who need the most, receive the most, so all Calgarians are on a level playing field. This is community investment.
Defund to Transform
- The entire system needs an overhaul. The entire system - the police, city council, community supports, the budget - needs an overhaul. Systemic Racism and Discrimination is not specific to the CPS. It exists at every level of our society. Each requiring its own approach in an effort to identify and dismantle the barriers that reduce opportunities for a truly equitable Calgary.
- Doing this work, rectifying this issue, Defunding the Police, is just one of the many ways needed to transform Calgary
- We understand that this is a long-term goal. However, the goal needs to be set here at budget for it to ever see fruition. The role of policing needs to change. Calgary police, as they are today, cannot be the police of tomorrow.
- Community Investment Framework Approval: The Notice of Motion passed on November 3rd must be approved here at budget. The money should not come from the Reserve Fund or any other location. The Police Budget has seen an increase in 13 out of the last 14 budget cycles that is not justified by key performance indicators as well as not bringing back a positive return of investment.
- Base Budget Funding: Commit, at minimum, a base budget amount of $20-million for the Community Investment Framework.
- Demand an Itemized Police Budget: In a move towards transparency, City Council should demand an itemized budget from the CPS. As the CPS puts forth their own plans for reallocation, to truly evaluate their intention of reallocation, the CPS (and other fiscally responsible government bodies) should have their books open to public scrutiny.
Historical Review of the Police and the Police Budget between 1999–2019:
- Police Population Has Grown More Quickly than City Population: In 1999, CPS had an Officer – Citizen Ratio of 1/670. By 2019, that ratio had gone down to 1/608. This means we have seen an increase in police that has outpaced the population growth.
- Police Funding has Outpaced Population Growth: The growth of the Police Force has outpaced population growth. The CPS grew by 68% in the years between 1999 and 2019 outpacing population growth by 15%.
- The Cost of Policing, per capita, has nearly tripled: In 1999, the cost of policing was $138 dollars per capita, by 2019, it ballooned to $388
- While costs of increased, police success rates have shrunken: In the last 20 years, the CPS Budget has seen a 345% increase in funding. The Weighted Clearance Rate has declined by 34% in that same timeframe. Calgarians are paying more and more but not seeing a commensurate reduction in crime.
Rationale: The Defund2Fund Coalition believes that our public institutions have a duty to be financially responsible. The data is clear, the CPS has a bloated budget. There are two key reasons why funds should be reallocated from the police budget:
- Racialized and marginalized Calgarians are not adequately served and supported by the police, as these systems were originally created to serve Calgary’s Eurocentric population; in many cases, the police actually represent increased trauma and danger to these communities.
- The police budget is a reflection of a faulty understanding of community safety. Reactive measures do not reduce crime. However, if we address the root causes of crime, the need for police will see a natural reduction.
We need your help!
1. Email City Council and ask them to vote for the Community Safety Investment Framework
Tell your Councillor that you support the Community Safety Investment Framework, and that you want them to vote YES!
A personal approach works best, but don’t forget to tell them that:
- The Community Safety Investment Framework is necessary
- The framework will identify potential ways to address gaps in its services for Calgarians in crisis, including any gaps in racially and culturally appropriate services
- Council must direct the Calgary Police Service to reallocate at least 5% of their current 2020 budget to communities, as approved by Council on November 3.
- The framework will inform the Calgary Police Service’s stated commitment to reallocation of a portion of its budget to help Calgarians in crisis.
Be sure to add something personal!
2. Call City Council and ask them to vote yes to the Community Safety Investment Framework
Most councillors are currently working from home but you can still leave them a voicemail by calling 403-268-2430. If you’re not sure what to say, include the ideas above!