What does defund mean?
We DO NOT want to abolish the police. BLM YYC & Defund YYC suggests a redistribution of funds from helicopters, armored vehicles, and war-zone style surveillance into services that foster stronger communities, like investing in more accessible transit, affordable childcare and housing, and education and job training opportunities for young people. All of these initiatives would benefit low-income communities, which are disproportionately Black or racialized.
Over-policing forces vulnerable people into antagonistic situations with police that all too often have tragic outcomes. Yet many of the same social problems we awkwardly try to hammer into shape with policing can be addressed more gently, and more effectively, by social welfare programs, health care workers, social workers and by housing the homeless.
Some will ask, “What about the rapes and the murders?” The police don’t stop these things from happening, they show up to these situations after the fact and are faced with the task of solving the problem. Far too often we see or hear reports of police involved in a serious incident which may have resulted in injury or death and a third party like ASIRT will get called in for investigation and the end result is usually a slap on the wrist with punishment being desk-duty for a few months or leave with pay. Law enforcement should be held to a higher standard and should face true accountability when they overstep and over-police.
Why Defund CPS?
The Calgary Police Services 2020 Gross Operating Budget of $401 million, which is about 14% of the city's budget. The increased capital budget, planned for more than $20 million over the next two years, only locks us into a future of further violence and criminalization, right after doubling our city’s jail capacity with the May 2020 opening of the $25 million Spyhill Services Centre. 84% of the budget goes to salaries and the rest covers the cost of equipment, training, vehicles, facilities and technology.
This is the breakdown of the spending budget from 2019 – 2022:
Telecom infrastructure = 6,400,000
Building infrastructure = 5,000,000
Helicopter Replacement = 11,000,000
In Car Digital Video = 4,000,000
Mobile Network Upgrade = 2,142,000
New District Office = 32,500,000
Police Equipment Replacement = 2,600,000
Red Light Cameras = 6,560,000
Storage Server = 2,368,000
Computer Upgrades = 5,090,000
Vehicle Replacement = 32,000,000
Police are tasked with managing violent crimes, such as murders and rapes, but they have a low track record of resolving these cases. In 2019, there were 10,007 violent crimes reported and the clearance rate was 45.9%, in terms of property crimes, there was 46,201 reported with a clearance rate of 11.7%.
Since 2017, the city’s Crime Severity Index has been at 80.85, driven by break-and-enters, robbery and assaults. Compared to other prairie cities, Calgary is one of the safest. 91% of Calgarians are satisfied with the Calgary Police Service. The trend in calls predicts an increase of social disorder events, collisions and domestic disputes. Police received over 570,00 calls for service in 2017, and about 60% required police attendance. In the 2019 - 2022 CPS business plan, they have actually suggested attending fewer non-emergency calls by prioritizing other frontline workers.
The Calgary Police Commission is responsible for handling complaints, personnel and finances. There are 11 individuals; 6 women and 5 men. None of them Black. How can you address the needs and concerns from the Black community without having any Black members on the board?
In 2019, there were 262 official public complaints about the conduct of a member from CPS.There were 837 citizen allegations, enquiries or requests against police, 59 internal complaints and 35 complaints about an act by a police officer that may contravene provincial or federal legislation. Often than not, these cases are withdrawn by the complainant, internally resolved or not sustained, without a hearing.
Optional Training for CPS Officers:
New recruits receive almost 30 hours of mandatory training and testing on “bias-free policing and de-escalating situations through open communication”.
Three-hour refresher courses on these same topics are available to members throughout their career.
Officers are expected to complete ongoing training each year. They are currently required to retrain and demonstrate competence in high-risk use of force, such as firearms (every six months) and conductive energy weapon use (every two years).
Expanding the mandatory annual retraining to include de-escalation techniques and the full range of physical control tactics. This will ensure “officers are always equipped with the latest best practices to reduce the need for force at calls and minimize the level of force used if it must be applied”.
Optional courses that officers can choose from to fill their remaining training hours throughout the year.
Officers can take two levels of additional diversity training where people from various cultural communities teach them about their community and the unique needs in it. The first level is a half-day course and the second level is two full days with visits to culturally significant places around the city.
With police violence recurring across the continent right now, there is no better time to commit ourselves to change. We have seen that investing in body cameras, civilian reviews, or de-escalation and implicit bias training doesn’t work. What we need in Calgary is leadership that can initiate a reduction in the immense police violence that targets our most marginalized people, toward the eventual abolition of police and prisons, and true decolonization of relations with Indigenous peoples in Treaty 7.
Increased police presence does not keep us safe, rather it directly threatens the lives of our most vulnerable community members (Black, Indigenous, Brown, Asian, people of colour, transgender, Two-Spirit, LGBTQ2IA+, unhoused people, street-based sex workers, people with disabilities, people experiencing poverty, etc). Police interventions and incarceration create chaos, disorder, trauma, and premature death in our communities.
We are asking that you, as an elected official, pledge to do the following:
1. To propose and implement a revision to the pre-approved Calgary Police Services budget in order to cut $235 million in accordance with the City of Calgary’s operating budget shortfall projections due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
2. To prioritize the expansion of community-led health and safety initiatives (PaCT and DOAP) over future financial investment into the Calgary Police Services.
3. Remove school police and resource officers (SROs) in all schools (Public, Catholic, Private, and Post-Secondary)
4. A redistribution of funds into services that foster stronger communities, like investing in more accessible transit, affordable childcare and housing, and education and job training opportunities for young people.
5. Wards 5, 8, 9, 10 and 13 are underserved areas that require reassessment. Calgary is a diverse city. 36% of all residents are BIPOC. When asked during the 2019 census wards 5, 9 and 10 scored between 72 and 80%, below the city wide average of 85%, when asked if they were proud to live in their neighbourhood. These are the neighbourhoods with the highest crimes and number of BIPOC. They deserve to feel safe and proud of our neighbourhoods.
6. Stop all new speciality weapons and munitions purchases/acquisitions including firearms, LRADs, teargas, etc.
7. Suspend the use of paid administrative leave for officers under investigation for any reason and publicize all previous officer complaints; immediate dismissal with no pension or payout of any officer with any excessive force and sexual misconduct complaints.
8. Institute decreases on starting salaries and implement salary caps.
9. Renegotiate areas of jurisdiction between CPS, municipal peace officers, provincial peace officers, and the RCMP to reduce redundancy.
10. Expansion of 211 to include neighbourhood-based crisis intervention and de-escalation trainings; mobile dispatch of these services available 24/7.
11. Create low-income housing, both single and family occupancy, built using universal design principles, housing for formerly incarcerated people finishing sentences in Calgary’s jails.
What it would defunding look like?
Calgary is a diverse city. 36% of all residents are BIPOC. When asked during the 2019 census to rate your overall quality of life, wards 5, 8, 9, 10 and 13 scored between 74-82%, below the city wide average of 83%. Wards 5, 9 and 10 also scored between 72 and 80%, below the city wide average of 85%, when asked if they were proud to live in their neighbourhood. Overall, the city is lacking in services and programs with the city average sitting at 74%. These are the neighbourhoods with the highest crimes and number of BIPOC.
Stop all new speciality weapons and munitions purchases/acquisitions including firearms, LRADs, teargas, etc.
End School Resource Officer programs. Disarm and phase out the transit peace officer program, do not permit transit peace officers to carry guns or tasers.
Suspend the use of paid administrative leave for officers under investigation for any reason and publicize all previous officer complaints; immediate dismissal with no pension or payout of any officer with any excessive force and sexual misconduct complaints.
Require officers to be personally liable for misconduct (rather than the municipality)
Institute decreases on starting salaries and implement salary caps.
Renegotiate areas of jurisdiction between CPS, municipal peace officers, provincial peace officers, and the RCMP to reduce redundancy.
Disarm any and all officers responding to a non-violent crime.
Expand bike and pedestrian infrastructure in the City.
Expansion of late-night CTS service.
Upgrade recreation, athletic centers and library centres for better access to affordable services. Retrofit multi-stall all-gender washrooms and changing facilities at every single one.
Creation of municipally-run safe injection site infrastructure and more non-coercive drug and alcohol treatment facilities, all free.
Increased funding to the Crisis Diversion Team with no involvement from anyone with any relationship to policing; reduce waiting time to less than five minutes city-wide.
Establishment of municipal iteration of AHS’s mobile response team, working collaboratively with the Crisis Diversion Team.
Expansion of 211 to include neighbourhood-based crisis intervention and de-escalation trainings; mobile dispatch of these services available 24/7.
Create low-income housing, both single and family occupancy, built using universal design principles, housing for formerly incarcerated people finishing sentences in all of Calgary’s jails.
Expand the LRT lines to all Calgary area municipalities and expand LRT lines so they are accessible citywide.