We must fully fund the police AND reform its enforcement. Reducing enforcement hurts our most vulnerable.
MY OPPONENT wants to reduce the size of the police budget and create positions that duplicate services provided by 1) our nonprofits and 2) the County (as paid for through our taxes) - i.e. health and human services.
NEED HEARING DIVERSE VOICES IN POLICING
The role of the mayor is to work with Police Chief Shawn Kudron to keep all citizens safe. Safety is one of the top concerns I hear when going door to door. I know we also have a sector that does not feel they are treated fairly. Their voice needs to be heard in a way they do not fear retaliation. Every law-abiding individual should feel safe in our community.
I do not, however, support reducing the police budget - whether you call it reallocating or defunding. You don't cut your way to solutions. You need resources to reform what you have. You trust and hold accountable the person in charge of that area. I've met with Chief Kudron twice, who is newer in his position. He has the right attitude to lead his force - believing in reducing criminalization, getting people connected to the resources they need, treating all people officers interact with, with dignity and transparency. He wants his officers to be innovative, problem-solvers, and open-minded. The Chief welcomes feedback, asking for people to look at their policies, manuals, and training.
Leadership comes from the top and Chief Kudron is the right leader to hold officers accountable for being ambassadors and providing great service to our community. When members of our community believe they are not treated well by police, they need to know how to safely be heard.
NEED: AVOIDING ARRESTS
I am impressed with the programs the officers are bringing forward to get juveniles needed resources before they are arrested. During COVID, in collaboration with the county district attorney's office, the police worked to keep non-violent people out of jail while on bond to the number of individuals in jail. They're considering keeping this policy because the community remained safe while this policy was in place. That is innovation.
NEED: NOT CRIMINALIZING MENTAL HEALTH, HOMELESSNESS, ADDICTION
Policing has already moved to not arresting those with mental health, homelessness and addiction. The goal is to connect those individuals with resources. These three issues are intertwined with many police calls. It is unfortunate.
There is a model, known as the Chelsea Hub (more info here >>). It is a great model for creating a hub of resource providers around each individual (housing, transportation, clothing, food, etc.). It is lead by the police department. It does not involve hiring mental health and addiction professionals within the city.
Chief Kudron told me he has asked other agencies to respond 24/7/365. No one is stepping up. He is hence trying a new police program, announcing soon, to fill the mental health and resources need in order to avoid criminalization. Chief Kudron could not create and test this program with fewer funds.
Some would like to see money moved to hire more social workers instead of police to help officers. As taxpayers, we are paying the County for health and human services so that our City doesn't have to have that department. Creating our own human services department isn't using our property taxes properly.
We must continue to fund the police, provide them with feedback, and as mayor, I will ensure positive change occurs.
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