By David Abramson
The City of Davis Finance and Budget Commission is meeting tonight at 6:30 to discuss proposed budget cuts, including that of the Davis Police Department.
Written comments can be submitted by 4:30 today to FBC@cityofdavis.org or can be given live during the meeting: https://www.cityofdavis.org/city-hall/commissions-and-committees/finance-and-budget-commission/agendas
My guess is this will be on the 6/16 City Council agenda, and further comments will be needed directly to City Council, but the commissions are a good place to start.
See below for the letter I submitted.
Hi Finance and Budget Commission,
Thank you for taking on the task of providing recommendations on the budget. No easy task!!
I would like to talk about police.
We're seeing widespread calls to defund police departments. This does not mean abolishing or disbanding the police department, but moving money from police budgets towards social programs and investment in communities. I believe we need to truly consider this in Davis not just because of budget concerns brought about by COVID, but for reasons that stand on their own.
Just last week after Chief Pytel declared that he stood in solidarity with protesters, DPD deployed riot police to Richards Blvd to meet a peaceful protest. How much did that cost us? While DPD certainly does a better job than other places, there are many instances in recent history of police misconduct, racism, and excessive force. I have black and brown brothers and sisters who have shared experiences of regular profiling and racism by the Davis Police Department.
I believe we'd be foolish to think that the systemic issues regarding the institution of the police don't apply here in Davis. If we hope to truly be in solidarity with racial and social justice, Black Lives Matter, and investing in the health and safety of our communities we need to do something here beyond token gestures.
In Davis, I'd like to see how much money is spent policing issues pertaining to homelessness. I bet it's quite a lot. In general, it's been shown through many studies (from New York, Utah in particular) that police enforcement of homelessness issues costs more to communities than providing housing.
I see a few things happening with the police budget:
1) A planned ~$617,000 increase for the FY 2021/22 (police budget doc):
2) A proposed $994,000 police expenditure reduction (staff report)
3) A proposed total net increase in police budget of $7,500 (staff report)
I'm sure that y'all are more savvy in reading through these budget proposals than I am, but it appears that the proposal does not constitute necessary budget cuts for the Police Department. If the proposal is to reduce $994,000 in expenditures, I think that though perhaps not going even far enough, it would be worthwhile and should be reflected in total budget and allocations for the Police Department.
Thanks for considering,