(Prepared by the Center for Popular Democracy and Communities United)
Last summer, thousands of Baltimore residents took to the streets, joining the national call to divest from the police and reinvest in Black and Brown communities that have faced longstanding systemic divestment. Our demands included long sought, meaningful solutions for Black and Brown communities that realize real community safety, such as housing, mental health supports, and funding for education--not police and jails.
In Baltimore, like in localities across the country, the city has continued to allocate resources to the Police Department and Sheriff’s Department while underinvesting in public schools, affordable housing, jobs programs, and health resources. The city continues to over-invest in police despite the lack of evidence that policing leads to public safety. Study after study shows that a living wage, access to holistic health services and treatment, educational opportunity, and stable housing are far more successful in reducing crime than police or prisons.
The Baltimore Police Department’s budget has continuously grown over the past several decades and now receives an outsized share of the general fund (the most flexible, discretionary fund in the city budget):
Outsized Spending on the Police and Sheriff’s Departments Compared to Spending on Substance Use and Mental Health
We call on the city to divest at least 25 percent from the city’s current police department budget and reinvest these funds in solutions that are proven to support real community health and safety.
Why 25 percent?
Defunding the police by 25 percent would: