Defund the Calgary Police Department

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I’m at a loss as to how there is a shortfall in the budget for the police when it’s estimated they received almost $500M dollars in 2018. In 2019, the CPS budget was $401 million, which is about 16% of the city's budget. The next largest budget item, public transit, received only $253 million. In 2019, Calgary spent only $42 million on social programs and affordable housing and homelessness. This year so far, Calgary has spent more than $8 million dollars on police cars, which is nearly half of the affordable housing budget. City Councillors have no problems throwing $11 million towards replacing Calgary’s two aging police helicopters and had the nerve to suggest purchasing three.

I’m curious to know what the demographics are behind the 95% of respondents who say they’re satisfied with the work that CPS is doing. I live in the North East and I have seen a tank, a tank parked at a church at the end of my block. Why does Calgary need military grade weaponry? 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. We could, today, reallocate hundreds of millions of dollars away from helicopters, armored vehicles, and war-zone style surveillance towards solving real problems in our communities.

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. 

We DO NOT want to abolish the police. Calgary Supports BLM suggests 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. All of these initiatives would benefit low-income communities, which are disproportionately Black or racialized.

Canada keeps no official national record of the number of people killed during encounters with police. Police departments do not routinely release detailed statistics about use of force incidents. When they do, it’s not collected based on race, ethnicity or other critical factors. This information could help identify and eliminate racism in law enforcement. We demand race-based data.

We have a lot of data showing that Indigenous and Black people are the subjects of unfair treatment throughout the criminal justice system, from contact with police to sentencing and parole. Aboriginal and Black people are more likely to be victims of crime. The Aboriginal murder rate in Canada is 7 to 8 times higher than the overall rate.

Very high numbers of Black youth, especially males, report being stopped regularly or searched by police, approximately double the rate of white youth.Studies show that Blacks are 50% more likely to be taken to a police station for processing after arrest, and 100% more likely to be held overnight than whites, even taking into account criminal history and age. When given bail, they had more conditions imposed.Blacks are overrepresented in federal prisons by more than 300% vs their population, while for Aboriginals the over representation is nearly 500%. The same disparities exist in provincial jails. In Alberta the numbers for Aboriginals are 6% and 39%. Moreover, these imbalances are getting worse, not better.