We are Reinvest Redding, a local group formed in June 2020 in answer to the national call for defunding the police and reinvesting in our communities. Inspired by the People’s Budget movements in cities like Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Oakland, Reinvest Redding wants to bring that movement home. We believe that housing is public safety. Mental health is public safety. Community health is public safety. Education is public safety. And yet, when the City of Redding and the greater whole of Shasta County writes their budgets, it’s clear by their priorities that police and the carceral system are their idea of our safety.

In Redding, CA, the police respond to between 3,000 and 4,000 calls for property crime each year. In contrast, there have been between 2-4 cases of homicide each year. In total, all “violent crimes” make up a small portion of the total calls – 15.2% on average from 2012-2018. The rest are property crimes. However, the police are ill equipped to handle property crime – one study found that, nationwide, only 17.6% of property crimes (and 45.5% of violent crimes) are considered “cleared”. When something has been stolen, calling the police deals with the aftermath. It does not prevent the theft.

Changing the conditions might.

The more money we spend on police, the less we have for other avenues of community safety. If we divested from cops and reinvested in our community, we could support local businesses and job growth: at the time of writing this, our community’s unemployment rate was up 11.1% this year, reaching 15.9% unemployment. We could ensure all have stable housing. We could fund mental health counseling. We could create bail funds and emphasize reentry services for those in our dangerous county jail.

If the conversation must be about crime, then any of these would reduce the rate more effectively than armed police coming in after the fact. We know that prevention works, even for violent crimes. We know that when we invest in community services, crime goes down.

Why, then, do we continue to turn to the police for the solution?

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