Call for Action: Defund the Regina Police Service

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Prescott Demas
Prescott Demas signed this petition

This petition has been created by concerned citizens to express opposition to the $96 million Regina Police Service (RPS) budget, a $3.5 million increase over last year's budget.

This number amounts to more than 20% of our city budget - more than Montreal (11%), Toronto (17%), and Edmonton (14.5%) spend on policing. $85 million of this goes to salaries alone. In spite of these continual funding increases, we see little change.

The police budget increases while Black and Indigenous-run community organizations, which provide low-cost alternatives to policing, are forced to rely on Go Fund Me campaigns, personal donations, and small grants from the city, in spite of the fact that they provide many of the same services as police, without requiring weaponry, communications departments, cells, or armoured vehicles. We should be funding community initiatives that support and centre the experiences of Black, Indigenous, and people of colour in Regina. 

In 2018, police chief Evan Bray said that "investment in social justice issues is something that is extremely important to make a long-term and sustainable difference in not only the health and happiness and wellness in our community, but also in crime and safety as well...we need to ensure as a society that those supports, instead of police, are going to be funded and resourced to the point where they can deal with them."

But $96 million to RPS is $96 million that isn't going into our community. It's a hefty expenditure that does little to ensure the long term health of our community.

An increased police presence does not keep us safe, rather it directly threatens the lives of marginalized communities (BIPOC, the 2STLGBQ+ community, unhoused people, sex workers, people with disabilities, people experiencing poverty, people who use drugs, etc.). The organization that became the RCMP was founded to help forcibly remove nêhiyawak, Anihšināpēk, Dakota, Lakota, Nakoda, and Métis Peoples from their own lands. In 1990, two Saskatoon Police officers allegedly abandoned Saulteaux teenager Neil Stonechild in a field at night while it was -28C outside, where he froze to death. In 2019, RPS officers shot and killed an Indigenous man named Geoff Morris. 

And using the police and the justice system as a mechanism to get individuals the health care they need is not just costly and unreliable – it’s dangerous. Over 70% of the people killed by police in Canada experience mental illness and addiction.  

Instead of investing in policing, our city must prioritize Black and Indigenous-led alternatives like increased mental health services, housing initiatives, income security, harm reduction services, accessible rehabilitation, mutual aid, conflict resolution services, transformative justice, and other vital community-based support systems.

It is with the safety and security of our community members in mind that I am asking that you, as an elected official, pledge to do the following:

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

2. To halt all hiring of additional officers, the purchase of additional equipment, and the planned expansion of the RPS headquarters and divest.

3. To prioritize the expansion of community-led health and safety initiatives over future financial investment into the RPS. Withhold pensions and don’t rehire cops involved in excessive force cases.

4. Require police to be liable for misconduct settlements.

5. Stop sending armed/uniformed officers on mental health-related calls.

6. Pledge to disarm and demilitarize the RPS (e.g. strip them of guns and military-style tactical gear, and dispossess of the tank.)

Per the City of Regina’s Code of Ethics 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.

June 7, 2020: This petition was updated following feedback and edits from Black and Indigenous community members. We have: 

-Removed language comparing the funding of the RPS to the funding of Mobile Crisis (a crisis response organization that works with the Regina police) and calling for police funding to be redistributed to Mobile Crisis. We’ve also removed mention of redistributing funding to other specific organizations, pending further research into their practices and leadership

-Advocated for redirecting funding to community organizations led by Black people, Indigenous people, and people of colour 

-Added details on the history of the RCMP

-Added specifics on the rates of police killings of those experiencing mental illness and addictions

-Added demands 4, 5, and 6 (Require police to be liable for misconduct settlements; stop sending armed/uniformed cops on mental health-related calls; pledge to demilitarize.)

The 1,653 people who signed the petition before 11:20 a.m. on June 7 signed a version of the petition without these updates.

We, the organizers of this petition didn’t make it clear enough in the original petition: we advocate for defunding the police as one step toward abolishing the police. Reforms to the police (instead of abolishing them) have historically only served to increase the scale, funding, and technology of police, and reinforce the myth that police increase safety. But police forces were founded to – and continue to – protect white people’s lives and property, at the terrible expense of the lives of Black people, Indigenous people, and people of colour. Abolishing the police means addressing social issues at their root, instead of responding to them with guns and prisons. Defunding the police is continuous with – and essential to – a larger program of anti-racism, decolonization, and ending white supremacy. 

We strongly encourage you to email your city councillor to let them know personally that you have signed this petition, and ask that they act to defund the Regina Police Service.   

Mayor Michael Fougere, mayor@regina.ca

Ward 1: Barbara Young, byoung@regina.ca

Ward 2: Bob Hawkins, bhawkins@regina.ca

Ward 3: Andrew Stevens, astevens@regina.ca

Ward 4: Lori Brescian, lbrescia@regina.ca

Ward 5: John Findura, jfindura@regina.ca

Ward 6: Joel Murray, j.murray@regina.ca

Ward 7: Sharron Bryce, sbryce@regina.ca

Ward 8: Mike O’Donnell, modonnell@regina.ca

Ward 9: Jason Mancinelli, jmancine@regina.ca

Ward 10: Jerry Flegel, jflegel@regina.ca