Published 07/09/2020 | Reading Time 4 min 20 sec
Norman, Okla – At the Oversight Committee meeting on Thursday, July 9th at 4 pm, Norman residents will have their first opportunity to make public comments to City Council about how the funds reallocated to community programs from the Norman Police Department budget should be used.
Norman Citizens 4 Racial Justice (NC4J) maintains that the mandate of NPD has been too broad and that it has been harmful to the community and draining on the city’s budget. “
The police do not have the tools to address every social problem, and it is not fiscally or morally responsible to ask them to intervene in problems they are not equipped to solve. A better investment would be to call on the right professionals to intervene and to change the cultural beliefs and social conditions that create violence,” the organization’s spokesperson said.
Other communities who have invested in alternatives to policing such as Mental Health Crisis Response Teams have seen significant cost savings from their investments in these programs. For example, the CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets) program in Eugene, Oregon costs around $2.1 million a year and is estimated to save $15 million a year through ER diversion and jail diversion cost savings. Considering the number of resources that even one arrest can take away from a family, the savings to Norman residents who are vulnerable to arrest will be significant as well.
NC4RJ advocates for a broader understanding of public safety that is not limited to police, policing, and incarceration as the only methods of addressing social problems.
“It is destructive and wrong to continue to provide generous funding to expensive law enforcement programs while cutting services that keep our residents safe by providing for their basic needs,” NC4J’s representative added. “A lot of criminal activity is driven by desperation, mental illness, substance abuse, and poverty. Police do not have the tools to solve the root causes of these issues, so we must invest in solutions that can help those in our community who are struggling and prevent the need for law enforcement.”
Particularly during a global pandemic that has caused unprecedented unemployment and economic precarity, NC4J believes it’s essential that the City of Norman immediately make investments in underfunded areas that directly support public health. NC4RJ will continue to advocate for investments to be made in areas including but not limited to:
- Mental Health Resources – This could include the creation of Mental Health Crisis Response Teams, which would include professionals who are licensed to provide mental health care in emergency situations and who can respond with unarmed support to 911 calls
- Affordable Housing
- Public Transportation
- Child Care and After-school programs
- Establishment of Racial Equity Initiatives
- Emergency Funding to Prevent All Evictions in Norman during COVID-19
- Domestic violence prevention and education, using Transformative Justice models
- Increased Accessibility – neighborhood infrastructures and affordable housing to be ADA compliant
Members of Norman Citizens for Racial Justice will participate in the Oversight Committee meeting discussion on Thursday, July 9th at 4 pm. They encourage other Norman residents to join them in the conversation.
More information and instructions on how to participate are available on the City of Norman website at https://www.normanok.gov/your-government/public-information/meeting-video-streams
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