Tom Butt Doesn’t Understand Public Safety

Mayor Butt’s obsession with Reimagine Public Safety Community Task Force member Tamisha Torres-Walker continues. Torres-Walker, who serves as a City Councilwoman in Antioch, recently made a call for the hiring of four more police officers in the district she represents.

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Mind the Gap

As Richmond and other cities around the country engage in groundbreaking budgetary reform efforts, transferring resources from distended police budgets to strapped social services, a narrative is emerging that such changes create a “gap in services.” City staff and others have argued that there should be no cuts in the police budget to  “ensure there are no gaps in services while implementation actions are undertaken.” But this is a specious argument.

The logic behind the “gap in services” narrative is that while any cuts to the police budget would be felt immediately, the crime-reducing impact of social services would take time to emerge to fill its place. The flaw that holds this argument together is the mistaken belief that the police are currently providing critical social services. While it’s true that the police really are the front line of contact for all manner of incident, from mental illness crises, to truancy, to community disputes, it is decidedly not the case that they are providing our communities with what we might recognize as effective support in these areas.

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Richmond FY 2021-22 Budget

The 2021/22 General Fund Budget passed on June 29, 2021. It is balanced, with revenues totaling $188.5 million, expenditures totaling $187.85 million, and includes funds for reimagining public safety, adding to the  “reserves“, increased staff compensation (Cost of Living Adjustments), facility improvements and subsidy to the housing authority.


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Here Ye, Here Ye, Voices Crying out for Better Safety in our City

Reimagining Public Safety was front and center at the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA) recent quarterly membership meeting. We hosted a panel with the intention of informing our members and opening up our conversation to the public. We also wanted to broaden the dialogue about how RPA can participate more actively in this critical campaign. 

This panel included seven speakers, followed by a Q&A. We brought different voices to the table to talk about public safety. The planners acknowledged there are many sides of this contentious issue so we aimed to get people thinking beyond the one perspective most often presented to the public, that is, “police = safety.” And since police and other city officials have dominated the narrative with that one equation, we chose to focus on other stakeholders whose safety needs urgently need to be heard and addressed.

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Video: Reimagining Public Safety in Richmond, a Year in Review

It was just over a year ago when the previous Richmond City Council initiated the process of establishing a formal task force to Reimagine Public Safety in Richmond. Between the Task Force and the Council there have been hours and hours of discussion on this subject, including analyzing relevant data, developing programatic strategies and implementation plans, and developing a budget to support this vision of a safer Richmond. Please check out this video for an overview.

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