I wanted to supply a list of my sources to support my most recent post on “Defunding the Police." I have also added a few suggested readings to help any readers self-educate on this matter.
There are tons of books and articles out there to explain the systemic racism of our "Justice" system. These are just a few options. I have read some, but not all of these. The work is always continuing.
The End of Policing by Alex S. Vitale
A recent interview with Mr. Vitale, about what Defunding the Police means and could look like.
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. If you have not read this, go read it. It will drastically change the way you view our Justice system. Be prepared for intense rage while reading this.
I am currently reading Rethinking Incarceration: Advocating for Justice that Restores by Dominque Gilliard. This is particularly interesting in its exploration of Christianity’s role in the evolution and expansion of mass incarceration.
I also highly suggest this list of readings. I have not read all of them but am making my way through
This site also has a plethora of articles and information in shorter doses.
The sources listed here include sites for the majority of my data. However, some of the data, especially correlations, is from my internal knowledge of nonprofits and years of personal study.
If you are interested in reading about Terry Stops in Seattle, there is a precinct by precinct breakdown of stops in The 2019 Seattle Police Stops and Detentions Annual Report. The 2017 and 2018 Annual Reports can be found here. Insight on the 2019 report can be found here. This information can be informative of where funding is going and the results.
The City of Seattle 2020 Proposed Budget can be found by digging through this site. Be warned it is an 800 page tome.
This Seattle Times article has good average cost data for Rapid Rehousing and other services in Seattle. RRH success rate and demographics can be found on this website and another Seattle Times article discusses housing availability. Homelessness information can be found in the 2019 Count Us In Report.
Mental Health response and policing data can be found at the following sites
Treatment Advocacy Center and Campaign Zero. Both have a depth of information.
Job training data was gathered from programs I have worked on, as well as from Seattle Job Market Data and from Washington Technology Industry Association.
Most of the School Based Health Centers information came from a variety of Seattle Public Schools site as well as this economic evaluation.
If you have any resources to add, please feel free. I am always looking for more data.
I want to start off by saying, I am not an expert in Defund the Police. There are incredible black folx and people of color who have created this movement. They are the experts. I am late to the table. That is a privilege my skin has afforded me. However, in a recent Instagram Live session with experts, Ijeoma Oluo and Janaya Khan, the call to action was to “lend your skill to the cause.” Looking at data and budgets and equating that to community impact is my skill to lend.
As a Grant Writer who has supported funding for nonprofits in nearly every sector in the Greater Seattle area, I support the call to Defund the Police. If there is one thing I have learned in my career, it is that Justice is about resources. When I say resources, I do not just mean money, but it is the number one thing that is needed. There is no shortage of love, knowledge, expertise, passion, or kindness in equity work. There is a shortage of money. Nonprofits in Seattle are doing incredible work cobbling together funding from fickle donors, politically based budgets, and mostly white-led foundations, but it is not enough.
When you look at the 800 page City of Seattle 2020 Adopted General Fund; Arts, Culture, Recreation, Health, Human Services, Neighborhoods, and Development funding COMBINED makes up 27% of the total budget. In dollar amounts, all of these categories COMBINED do not equal the total $409,538,851 Seattle Police Budget. The Seattle Police (SPD) Budget does not include Fire/EMT Services, Municipal courts, all pensions and health benefits, etc. This is just the SPD budget. There is already a lot of important information available about why we should defund the police due their consistent failure to communities. What I have not seen, is information about the impact that the reallocation of resources from the SPD budget could have in supporting our communities, in particular Black and Brown communities.
My numbers are not perfect and are sourced only from my own knowledge and from what is easily available online to the public in a short amount of time. All estimations are conservative and assume for the highest cost. I have chosen the following examples because they require the least repeat funding while creating compounding success factors for Communities of Color. Black, Indigenous, Latinx and other communities of color should be making the decisions on what reallocation will actually look like. My goal is to spark a conversation that will focus on what could really be accomplished with these resources.
This is what we could do in ONE year with just over $196 million dollars reallocated to impactful services that already exist in the Greater Seattle Area. This is $9 million less than what activist are calling for in Seattle.I
One. We could house the homeless. I am not talking a few homeless, I am talking about nearly all the non-chronically homeless people in the Seattle/King County area. Rapid Rehousing (RRH) programs are proven to be successful in breaking the cycle of homelessness. In King County, RRH has a 94% success rate of keeping people from returning to homelessness. African American/Black participants in RRH have the highest success rate of moving into permanent housing. Reallocating just over $66 million in funding from SPD to expand RRH programs that already exist would successfully exit 8474 people from homelessness for in one year. Yes, that is accounting for the 6% that would return to homelessness. In the city of the Seattle 10.5% of the apartments sit empty. In Tukwila, Sammamish, and Issaquah another 15% of the units are empty. The space is there, the money and true dedication from the City of Seattle is not.
Two. We could prevent homelessness. We know that COVID-19 is only going to push more people, especially Black and Latinx people, out of their homes. It is hard to estimate how many people will need rental assistance, but 67% of homeless people interviewed during the Count Us In report in King County/Seattle reported living in homes that were owned or rented by themselves or family and friends prior to homelessness. On average it costs $1,000 per person/per month for a maximum of the three months to keep people housed. Based on this data, we could prevent 6,020 people from becoming homeless by reallocating roughly $54 million in funds from the SPD budget.
Three. SPD responds to an average of 10,000 crisis contacts per year or 27 per day. Police are known to escalate Mental Health Crisis and as many as half of fatal police shootings involve individuals with severe mental illness. Violent encounters dropped by 40% when a Mental Health Response team was deployed. By reallocating $10 million in funds from the SPD budget, Seattle could expand their current Mental Health Response Teams from the five mental health professionals projected to work with SPD in the 2020 budget to 100 mental health professionals who can respond to Mental Health Crises with or without a police presence. By turning our response from relying on police to handle mental health crises we could deploy Mental Health Response teams first and foremost and then lean on police if mental health professionals deemed it necessary. This would increase the amount of help a person in crisis would receive while reducing instances of violence and imprisonment and reduce the burden on police and our courts.
Four. We could provide skilled job training and apprenticeships in middle to high wage job fields in need of employees now and which have a projected need increase in the next five years. Studies show that the less unemployment the less crime. In fact, a 1% decrease in the unemployment rate can cause a 1-2% decrease in crime. We also know that to break the cycle of poverty in Communities of Color that lead to homelessness we need to increase access to well paying jobs. By reallocating $18 million in funds from the SPD budget we could provide 1,000 individuals with Tech Job Apprenticeships and 2,000 individuals with advanced manufacturing and aerospace and maritime industry job training and apprenticeships. This funding could help diversify fields that are in need of diversification and support our economy and communities, while reducing crime rates.
Five. By reallocating roughly $47 million in funds from the SPD budget, Seattle could put School-Based Health Centers (SBHC) in every public school in the district. Seattle School Districts includes 113 schools. SBHCs place critically needed services like medical, behavioral, dental, and vision care directly in schools so that all young people, no matter their zip code, have equal access and opportunity to mental and physical health care. Healthy kids do better in school, have a lower absentee rate, and higher test scores. Youth who are successful in school are more likely to thrive now and in the future. Currently Seattle Public Schools have SBHCs in 25 schools with the general budget building out 3 more sites and partial funding for one more site.
These numbers are in addition to what nonprofits are already doing in our communities. This work is complicated but with proper funding and support, I have seen nonprofits create programs no one ever dreamed could exist. In researching the impact of what Defund the Police would mean for Seattle, I can say this is the first time that I can see potential for real progress in Seattle. It is amazing what nonprofits can do with so little, but so often real change is slow and small. With leaders of color at the helm of this kind of resource reallocation, working hand in hand with nonprofits and organizations that are already doing impactful work in our communities, we could see real justice in Seattle in a year. Let alone what could be done year over year.
I do recognize that the impacts of COVID-19 are predicted to cause a budget short-fall. I did not take this into account because I wanted to use this budget as example for what can be done year over year in Seattle.
Now the question you are asking is what does the City of Seattle lose through this reallocation? Honestly, this is not a place I am an expert in. I also cannot find a true budget that line items all the expenses of the SPD. Overall though, communities would not lose that much. Studies have proven over and over that the Police do not prevent crime. At the best of times they respond to crime, at the worst they cause crime. I can say that the practices and policies that the SPD is promoting in their budget are proven to incite violence, increase racial profiling, promote a perception of safety without actually reducing crime, and support systemic oppression of communities of color.
If you have questions or would like resources, I will be sharing them here soon, but feel free to contact me for immediate questions. Please follow Ijeoma Oluo (buy her book!) and Janaya Khan on Instagram these amazing people continue to lend so much power and knowledge to late comers like me. @ijeomaoluo @janayathefuture
Lace has 10 years of fundraising experience for large and small organizations. She has a depth of knowledge learned in the fundraising trenches, through good and bad trainings, from numerous mentors, and by creating all the excel sheets!