Re: Mid-Year Police Budget Monitoring—A Call for Adjustments to the Police Budget
Dear Mayor Gloria and City Council Members,
In June 2020, the City voted to increase the police budget to $568 million in the FY21 adopted budget despite record-setting community turnout of thousands of live public comments and e-comments calling for justice. The City increased the San Diego Police Department budget even though Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color continue to be attacked by the police, victimized by police brutality, subjected to racial inequalities in searches and sentencing.
Policing in this country was designed to terrorize and oppress Black, Indigenous, and people of color. The civil uprisings and call for justice in Summer 2020 was just the latest stage of a century’s long fight for equity and justice. We are still fighting. We will continue to fight for our communities until the City completely funds the services and programs that create true public safety and health. To be safe and healthy, everyone must have access to safe housing we can afford, living wages and safe working conditions, environmental justice, economic equality, youth services, alternatives to policing that provide trauma-informed responses, and community care that dismantles the system of policing and mass incarceration.
The City has a budget monitoring and revision process that allows us to evaluate where we are and to make changes to the budget to reflect what is in the best economic and social interests of San Diegans. When the City Council passed that budget and approved the Mayor’s plan to increase the police budget for FY21, the City Council also created a legal requirement that the SDPD Overtime and Neighborhood policing budgets be part of this review and that they would revisit the question of whether allocations to these areas were the best way to address San Diegans’ needs. In a moment of heightened tension, the City promised the community that there would be a chance to make changes to the budget mid-year. Now, the City is going back to business as usual and prioritizing policing over our communities.
The Mayor has decided to fight the will of the people and authority of the Council by not proposing any adjustments to this budget. When our communities are struggling to stay in or even secure safe and stable housing, access good jobs and remain gainfully employed in safe working conditions, put food on the table, and support their families, why is the Mayor unwilling to make changes to the police budget which is the City’s largest expense category that totals over $550 million? The City of San Diego cannot claim the moral or logical high ground when it is simultaneously arguing that it does not have the money to provide support to families in this region AND that it will not rethink expenditures that go to hurt rather than heal communities experiencing the injuries of inequity. Leadership of this City simply cannot continue with business as usual and think that it absolves them from responsibility for the racially discriminatory impacts of the system.
Mayor Todd Gloria has a choice. He can choose to right the wrongs of systemic racism and inequality and honor the intention to make adjustments to the police budget. And the City Council has a choice. You can show bold leadership and stand with the majority of people in this City or you can go along with the Mayor and do business as usual. The Community Budget Alliance (CBA) calls on you to be bold and to show leadership by pushing for a re-allocation of police budget funds not only in the upcoming FY22 budget cycle but in adjustments mid-year to ensure the City prioritizes vital city services and programs that will actually make all of our communities safer.
The Community Budget Alliance