For many years after Michael Brown died in Ferguson Activist And the community leader said,Rethink public security”
Organizers throughout the state repeated these calls, partly inspired by the Ferguson Commission, which recommended that cities concentrate more resources on the root cause of crime.
But they were mostly deaf.
After George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis last year, the more controversial “police refund” chanting has taken hold among protesters.
City leaders in St. Louis and Kansas City are now trying to direct money from police budgets to various security initiatives, believing that these actions embody the phrase “refund police.” Faced with fierce backlash from Republicans in Jefferson City.
Proponents argue that it’s not necessarily a bad thing.
“It’s controversial, so it’s useful to use the phrase’refund’,” said John Chasnov, a coalition leader in police crime and oppression. “We need to encourage people to rethink in another way.”
The provocation seems to have worked, whether intended or not.
The state-appointed Kansas City Police Commission I’m complaining now Mayor Quinton Lucas and the Kansas City Council voted to transfer $ 42 million from the police budget to the Community Services and Prevention Fund.
The commissioner runs the department while Kansas City manages the police budget.
Meanwhile, in St. Louis, Mayor Tishaura Jones $ 4 million Get out of the police budget, put some into affordable homes, and hire social workers and clinicians who can handle 911 calls to deal with mental illness and drug addiction.
Due to budgetary movements in both cities, Republican lawmakers have called on Governor Mike Parson to convene a special session to prevent a “defense” at the police station. Bill passed It aims to prevent local governments from cutting law enforcement budgets by more than 12% in five years.
Some lawmakers in the St. Louis region have even highlighted the idea of asking the state to regain control of the St. Louis police station.
Both St. Louis and Kansas City Break the murder record in 2020, Republicans point out as evidence that the mayor’s efforts are going in the wrong direction. But supporters of city behavior say that increased violence is exactly why they have to try something different.
Jones and Lucas came together and said they wouldn’t retreat.
“Today’s Grand Stand does not make our community safer,” Jones and Lucas said in a joint statement. “As mayors of the two largest cities in Missouri, we offer real solutions and investments to address the underlying criminal situations such as poverty, lack of mental health services and housing instability. We are working with the people who provide it. “
Protest in Kansas City
In Kansas City, police don’t lose money from transactions — they actually earn $ 3 million.
Approved by the Kansas City Council on May 20 Ordinance This will put $ 42 million into a special fund allocated to the police, but “Community involvement, outreach, prevention, intervention, and other public services”
Another ordinance adds that money, returns another $ 3 million to the department’s budget through a contract with the city hall to hire new police recruits, and tells the city authorities more about how the board spends the money. Provides information about.
The city manager then negotiates a contract with the police committee on how the police station spends the money.
“This doesn’t fund police,” said Melissa Robinson, a Kansas city council member. “This is an additional measure to increase funding for the police.”
The goal is to give members of the city council more say about how the state operates the city’s police station.Destroy the earth”
While the biggest protests about the move came from Republicans, Kansas City leaders have also faced backlash from activists who have sought to rethink public security for years.
“People want to see something different,” he said. Reale Justice Network And ACLU Community Organizer. “They are fed up with police atrocities, and they are definitely fed up with shooting. If the answer was to increase police, Kansas City would have had the lowest number of shots last year. But we weren’t. “
Gaston supports Lucas’ push for investment in a community that has historically been ignored, but she disagrees with the way it was done.
She said there was no transparency or public comment opportunity in the process.With Gaston’s group Simultaneous Of more than 10 community organizations letter He expressed these concerns to Lucas last week.
“The people around the table really need to be people working in the community on these issues, so that they can better dictate how these funds should be spent. I can.”
Anger over lack of transparency has also been expressed in Northland, where opposition to the plan is most severe.
Mayor Brian Pratt announces shortly A Pratt spokesman said it was a format for gathering community feedback before starting negotiations with the police secretary.
“We understand that the community is anxious to start this process,” he said. Chris Hernandez, director of urban communications. “But, as you may remember, the police committee has sued the city. Its legal action needs to be resolved before it can engage or negotiate with the community.”
Lucas said he plans to participate in the People’s Agenda Virtual in Kansas City. Saturday meeting To answer the questions of Gaston and others.He said he had a different police idea than the coalition, but he supported it Expand ways to address the root cause of crime.
“But the place Kansas City actually found lies between the rocks and the hard, so what can we do?” Lucas said.
Robinson said he was discussing with Pratt what his district needed. It’s more community policing, how to deal with drug houses, and youth development programs.
Senator Barbara Washington of D-Kanzas City also reiterated the need for more services for young people, especially more free summer programs for children.
She said holding a special session was an unnecessary use of taxpayer money.
“I don’t think we need a special session across Missouri to talk about the only police station in the country that is still controlled by the state government,” Washington said.
“Total approach” to crime
Lucas’ move has offended many Republicans in the surrounding counties who are currently seeking a special session. Senator Tony Ruetkemeier of R-Parkville said the Kansas City Ordinance would deprive the state-appointed police committee of power.
But Routuk Meyer is thinking of ways to fix it through the law.
“What I want to see is a bill that increases the minimum amount of money (the police station) needs to get from the city,” Luetkemeyer said. KCMO Talk RadioPlease note that current state law requires 20 percent of the city’s income.
Attention to Kansas City is to spend $ 4 million of the police station’s $ 160 million general funding budget to answer emergency calls related to mental illness in affordable housing, victim services, and medical care. He added more heat to Jones, who suggested reallocating to experts.
Last summer, the St. Louis Commission (including police and advocacy leaders) announced Recommendation Establish a “civilian public security network”. This will allow 911 callers to access mental health workers, community health workers, and social workers to answer non-criminal calls.
The City of St. Louis has piloted this version using the Cops and Clinicians program. 25 year old program In New Haven, Connecticut, a commission spokesman said Jones’ proposal was in line with the group’s question.
Republican Congressman Nick Schroer held a press conference last week with other Republican-elected civil servants at the office of the St. Louis Police Officers Association, condemning the move and calling for a special session. I added a voice.
“We are really worried about the proliferation of violent crime by robbing law enforcement officers, especially when they need it most,” Schroer said.
At a news conference, Wildwood Mayor Jim Bowlin did not support the idea of ”defending the police,” but said he supported trying initiatives to address mental illness and drug addiction in different ways. ..
“If I’m going to define’police defense’as a way to get rid of the money available to hire and protect the police, I don’t agree,” Bowlin said. “If it’s an approach that considers other things that take the whole situation into account … I’ll help you think about where your bid information goes from a perspective of approaching the situation as a whole.”
That’s why St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden endorsed Jones’ proposal to fill the police station vacancies with “appropriate experts” who could handle phone calls dealing with drug addiction and mental illness.
Hayden testified at April 29 City Budget Meeting He was unlucky and was trying to fill about 100 positions for about 3 years.
“I support the possibility of doing other things with that potential pool of funds,” Hayden said. “I couldn’t fill those places. That doesn’t prevent us from hiring officers.”
State Congressman LaMarcus Aldridge, D-St. Louis said the state-wide conversation was taking place as the young man had the courage to protest and chanting “to defend the police.”
He urged his legislative colleagues to stay out of the way St. Louis voters chose to defend Jones simply because they didn’t like the “terms” used by the opposition.
Jones and Lucas criticized Republicans for failing to provide a specific “solution” during the proposed special session.
“Instead, they defend the right of residents of St. Louis and Kansas City to make decisions for our own community,” they said.
And that sentiment lurks deep in the community, said David Dwight, executive director of Forward Through Ferguson, an organization tasked with advocating the implementation of the Ferguson Commission’s recommendations.
St. Louis only gained control of the police station in 2012, thanks to a state-wide voting bill.
The threat of a return to state rule evokes ugly memories, Dwight said, when Missouri’s separatist governor implemented policies to prevent unionist cities from controlling their own arsenal during the Civil War. The city originally said it had lost control of the sector.
“They literally use white supremacist tools. In response to one of the state’s most diverse cities self-determining,” Dwight said.
this Reprinted work With permission via Missouri IndependenceFocuses on Missouri Political and Policy Reporting..
‘Defund the police’ was designed to provoke a response. In Missouri, it worked Source link ‘Defund the police’ was designed to provoke a response. In Missouri, it worked