Councillor Survey Question 8

Should we defund the police? If yes, what exactly does defunding the police mean to you? If not, what should the City do to address both historical and ongoing injustices?

Janise Somer:

Absolutely not. No police force is perfect and the RCMP is no exception. I am not sure what ongoing injustices you are speaking of, but the justice system is responsible for the ongoing revolving door for re-offenders.


Brenda Campbell:

I think we've tried to compromise with regards to funding by incorporating peace officers to support our police force (RCMP). However, this format is also struggling and injustices are abundant. If I am elected, I will do a study across all municipalities around the size of Red Deer to determine which police presence is most effective. It's a priority that we go from one of the least safest cities in the country to one of the safest.


Bruce Buruma:

No--policing must remain a priority. We should also ensure we provide the most appropriate response to situations so police and emergency services are focused on more urgent needs. Response and intervention teams providing mental health, first aid and other supports are a wise use of resources and achieve better outcomes.


Kraymer Barnstable:

No, we should not defund the police. I believe the city has already begun to address historical injustices, but defunding the police would only add to any ongoing injustices in my opinion.


Victor Doerksen:

This is a poorly written question. Either answer implies that the police are to “blame” for something. Historical injustices and ongoing injustices (things that we are currently blinded to) are a jointly shared responsibility of the entire community. I support our police. The amount we spend on policing services is always subject to budget scrutiny like any other department.


Dianne Wyntjes:

Over the last few years since George Floyd’s and Breonna Taylor’ deaths in the USA, and recognizing many Canadians who were also shot and killed by police, Canada is included in the conversation about “defunding the police” and the importance of saving lives. It’s a conversation that, for some, is long overdue, while others see it as alarming for public safety. I don’t use the word “defund the police”. I acknowledge that through the budgeting processes, especially today with competing public dollars, resources and needs, there are regular budget reallocations of policing and community safety, or analyzing and reviewing ways to respond, along with the learnings in policing for response and restraint. For me, it doesn’t mean zero budgets for community safety and policing. It does mean questions about our policing and safety budgets. As responses, I see multi-disciplinary approaches for safety and policing. It means prevention in the first place and up-stream approaches for those needing supports in their life; before the police are called. When we need and want help, we call 9-1-1. We ask police to respond to situations that sometimes, can make things worse. I believe it’s important to recognize Incidents such as overdose, homelessness, or handling social problems that may require supports that are not police. In Red Deer, the City has a pilot program, calling 2-1-1 with the Social Diversion Team of an LPN and Mental Health/Addictions Social Work treat who have diverted calls from the RCMP and support those vulnerable or individuals in distress. This fees up the RCMP for other policing duties. Responses are about being pro-active and minimizing the challenges through prevention, response and keeping people health. It’s about the City’s current System Leadership Team which has been in place for community focus and attention to up-stream approaches for crime reduction and supports. This is a focused community group with diverse community representation such as Alberta Health Services, Justice, Children’s Services, School Districts, Urban Aboriginal Voices, the RCMP and City representation, who have ongoing attention and action to any upstream approaches for community attention and prevention. As well, the future Red Deer Drug Treatment Court may also be helpful, once its operational through Alberta Justice. And the community also looks to the provincially funded Red Deer Recovery Centre for addictions and mental health which should help move those with addictions and mental health for treatment, along with family supports. This provincially funded Centre is set to open in 2022 in north Red Deer. And the next Council’s work will be conversations with the Provincial government and landing on a location and zoning for the Provincially funded and operated integrated Shelter. It’s about the scope of police responsibilities and shifting to models that continue to keep us safe but looking to other ways/individuals who are better equipped to meet the emergency needs, e.g family mediation, addictions and mental health for individuals and families and poverty reduction actions. It can also mean training for the officers on their responses to mental health calls, anti-racism education and race bias one may hold, along with internal policing process and reforms. The role and job of a police officer is not easy. But who are we gonna call when we want that safety and protection? The police. One must also recognize the post traumatic stress disorders in their careers. For me, it’s also about investing more in housing, mental health, programs of prevention such as preventing family violence, supports for poverty, trauma in lives, supports for offenders and supports for victims. As community members, we must also educate ourselves on the matters above. And I truly believe the work of policing and a safer community never ends.


Chad Krahn:

We need to continue to fund our police and look for ways to help them do their job better and more effectively. There is a technology that can aid them significantly in their jobs that we have hesitated to provide them, like GSP tracking ankle bracelets and traffic cameras that can read license plates. The police have a difficult job and often see the worst of society, but their needs to be an element of de-escalation training worked into their protocol. The city has also funded a social diversion team and hot line (2-1-1), which is a worthwhile pilot project to send potentially the right kind of help to a situation rather than always the police.


Ryan Laloge:

The concept of defunding police in a community which has a high crime level is not an appropriate question. Far more important is the issue of how policing can be more effective in our community and what form it should take. This question is an American concept for addressing racial challenges and not a Red Deer centered issue.


Vesna Higham:

NO. We clearly need to address the historical and ongoing injustices with things like targeted/ongoing training and education, zero-tolerance discrimination polices for our officers, and the installation of body cams for video evidence of either unjust discrimination to private citizens or unfair allegations against officers, but defunding is not the answer.


Cindy Jefferies:

To me, "defund the police" means to allocate some of the money you would have allocated to enforcement efforts and invest in preventative measures or mental health services instead. There is merit in considering a model with a focus on prevention and response from someone other than police.

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