CALL TO ACTION: DEFUND THE BLOOMFIELD POLICE DEPARTMENT

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Bloomfield City Council:

We demand defunding of the Bloomfield Police Department (BPD). 

Defunding the BPD is a commitment to a gradual process of strategically reallocating resources, funding, and responsibility from BPD to community-based models of safety, support, and prevention. We must prioritize spending on social services, physical and mental healthcare, accessible public transit, housing, quality education, parks, access to food, and support to underserved communities. It is fundamentally about reevaluating the role policing plays in Bloomfield. 

Multiple studies across various jurisdictions in the United States demonstrate that reallocation of resources from police to community-based models increases safety. Crime is critically connected to when someone has been unable to meet their basic needs. To "fight crime," we need more jobs, more educational opportunities, more community centers, more mental health resources, and more of a say in how our community functions. While in this long transition process, we may need a small, specialized class of public servants whose job is to respond to violent crimes, we have presently turned police into social workers with guns. Black people have paid the ultimate price. 

Public health experts have long advocated for dispatching medical professionals and/or social workers, not armed police, to respond to calls related to substance use and mental health. Polling from Data for Progress indicates that more than two-thirds of voters nationwide—68 percent—support the creation of such programs, versions of which are already in place in other cities such as, Eugene, Oregon; Austin, Texas; and Denver, Colorado, and being considered in cities such as New York City, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, and Minneapolis. 

We are calling on you to commit to the following: 

  1. Prohibiting police from enforcing a range of non-serious offenses, including issuing fines, and making arrests for non-dangerous behaviors, eliminating many of the unnecessary interactions between the police and community members that have led to so much violence;
  2. Reinvesting savings from the current BPD budget into alternatives to policing that will keep local Bloomfield safe and help its residents thrive;
    1. Decreasing police spending and re-invest in healthcare, education, green spaces, living-wage policies and affordable housing.
    2. Increasing involvement of mental health professionals, social workers, EMTs, nurses, and firefighters as first responders to non-violent crimes and individuals in crisis.
    3. Re-investing in Bloomfield's Black communities.
  3. Implementing common-sense constraints, and other protections on the rare instances in which police officers do interact with community members: 
    1. Mandating a zero-tolerance approach in penalizing and/or prosecuting police officers who use excessive force against unarmed, non-violent and non-resisting individuals in an arrest.
    2. Preventing further militarization of the police.

These three measures are the most urgent, impactful changes we can make as a community to protect residents from police harm – significantly reducing the excessive budget of the BPD and redistributing it to programs that have been underfunded in Black and Brown communities for decades, including schools, affordable housing, and healthcare options.

With a budget crisis, particularly as a result of the pandemic, and already high taxes, it is time we defund the most expensive public department, and proactively reinvest back into Bloomfield for proven community-led public safety. In 2019, Bloomfield spent $16,581,350 on BPD, out of a budget of $85,860,582 - that's close to 20% of total township budget. Meanwhile, the town spent 2% of its budget on Health and Human Services, and less than 1% on Parks and Recreation.

Defunding the police is not about hating cops. It is about doing what is best to serve Bloomfield's diverse residents. 

Black Lives Matter is structural change, not a talking point.  Defund the police. Make our communities safer. 

Signed,

Bloomfield's concerned residents 

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Defunding the police explained further:

Studies showing the efficacy of community-based models of safety:



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