Black Lives Matter march in Calgary, June 3, 2020. Photo credit: Jon Yee
We are often asked about programs and organizations that could make the best use of the funding transferred from a reduced police budget. The truth is, there is no lack of options when it comes to organizations that could use this money in better, more constructive and safer ways that the police. The hard part is identifying them all. However, let’s try.
It is our coalition’s position that the policy budget should be reduced by 30% in the next city budget. Why 30 percent? Well, let’s start from the fact that there are more humane, cost-effective ways to keep our communities safe than deploying the police, especially when working with vulnerable persons, including individuals experiencing homelessness, mental health challenges, and other challenges. Approximately 30 percent of calls involve these vulnerable people, thus it is reasonable to expect that the policy budget could be cut by that amount.
A 30 percent, or $120M, reduction of the CPS budget, reallocated into social services and programs is necessary. For a better sense of the impact of this spending, consider that the City of Calgary spent 27.6M on social services in 2019 opposed to the 401M that was given to CPS. While this is simply the beginning of improving equity in our great city, this is what initial defunding looks like.
Where can these dollars go?
It is important to start looking at racialized communities. For example, starting by investing in BIPOC businesses, start-ups and anti-racism work that is already happening within the city is valuable to every citizen in Calgary.
Individuals in historically more racially diverse communities feel as though they are lacking in social services and programs. A lot of these individuals also feel a lack of safety in their communities. There is a disconnect between safety and availability to social services and programs. It is proven that increased access to these programs and services leads to a reduction in crime.
Transformative and Reactive Programs CAN be funded
There are a variety of existing programs provided by the city. Truly proactive community programs (such as transformative justice programming) and reactive programs (such as the Police and Crisis Team [PaCT] and Alpha House’s Downtown Outreach Addictions Partnership [DOAP] Team) that work alongside CPS address the needs of marginalized and vulnerable communities need more funding.
Right now, 27.6M dollars is spent on affordable housing (excluding Calgary Housing Company), youth programs, community services and financial assistance. With monies reallocated from the police budgets, we can improve and expand these essential programs. These services provide assistance to individuals who have disabilities, members of the BIPOC community, seniors, and families. By increasing the budget for social programs, the city can work towards crime prevention instead of further increasing funding to CPS, who right now is working on a model that is more reactionary than proactive.
These are just several of the options that come to mind when we image better places for our money to be spent that in police budgets. Please be sure to sign our petition, share with your friends, and tell your social media followers which programs you think could be more productive and humane recipients than the police.
About the Author
Elle Jay the founder of BLM YYC and co-founder Defund YYC was born and raised in Calgary.
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