Defund the Durham Region Police Service

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This petition was created by the concerned citizens of Durham Region, regarding our outrage over the Durham Region Police Service's budget of $214.717 million (which was just increased 3.92% from 2019) from the total $1.44 billion 2020 operational budget for the Region of Durham.

This astronomical police budget costs the taxpayer more than firefighters, paramedics, libraries and public housing combined. We believe this is morally and economically necessary, and thus your duty as an elected official. Durham Region Police Services has on numerous occasions gone above the law and abused the citizens it's supposed to protect. We, your constituents, demand to start divesting from the systematically violent Durham Region Police Service immediately.

We are petitioning for our elected officials to pledge to do the following:


1. To never again vote to increase the Durham Region Police Service budget.   


2. To propose and implement a minimum DRPS' budget cut of $63.23 million to recoup losses from the COVID-19 pandemic and to invest in hurt communities. 


3. To prioritize the expansion of community-led health and safety initiatives over future financial investment into the Durham Regional Police Service

 

The Durham Regional Police are not at all transparent, the public having little to no information on their officers shooting, abuse, report statistics, leading the public to sweeping their misconduct under the rug. 

In the face of cyclical police violence happening throughout North America, 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 does not work to end police violence. We need leadership in Durham that can initiate a reduction in the immense injustice that systematically targets our most marginalized people toward the eventual mitigation from police services to community-oriented services. To do this, we call on Municipal and Regional Governments to also reduce funding in these ways :  


● Withhold pensions from and do not rehire officers who are involved in excessive force cases 

● Require officers liability for misconduct settlements  

● Reduce the size of the police force and stop sending armed/uniformed officers on mental health-related calls.    

● Create an independent institution with no affiliation with the Police, to perform in-depth investigations to complaints against police officers with full transparency and discipline

●Implement a fully transparent and accessible database on DRPS' statistics, ex. shootings, reports against officers, incarceration rates, all implemented to hold the officers committing offences accountable and let the community know what is actually happening in their neighborhood. 

An  increased police presence in communities and schools does not keep us safe. Instead, it has been proven to directly threaten the lives of our most vulnerable communities (BIPOC, the LGBTQ2S+ community, unhoused people, street-based sex workers, people with disabilities, people experiencing poverty, etc). Instead of investing in policing, our city must prioritize alternatives like education, increased mental health services, housing initiatives, income security, harm reduction services, accessible rehabilitation, mutual aid, social workers, conflict resolution services, transformative justice, and other vital community-based support systems. These initiatives must support our most vulnerable communities and center the experiences of Black, Indigenous, and people of colour in the Durham Region


We should look to and learn from organizations like Black Lives Matter Toronto, Black Legal Action Center, Toronto Police Accountability Coalition, PASAN, Toronto Prisoners’ Rights Project, Maggie’s, Showing Up for Racial Justice, in Toronto, and other similar groups in the Durham Region.


Our city can lead the way in defining public safety through community, not cops, where Black, Indigenous and people of colour are free from police oppression. We are asking you to create a better future for all residents of Durham Region by divesting from harmful policing and investing in life-affirming services.

Per the Durham Region’s Code of Conduct for Members of Council, your role is to focus on issues important to the community and to demonstrate leadership and to build and inspire the public’s trust and confidence in local government. As such, it is part of your duty as Mayor and council to address this petition with all the urgency that such a matter requires.