By ROC DSA Electoral Working Group
The 2022-2023 City of Rochester Proposed Budget was released recently and a vote will be held by City Council on June 14. The Rochester Police Department (RPD)’s proposed budget this year is $90,978,600, almost 15% of the City’s entire budget. This includes 722 sworn officers, with up to an additional 50 police recruits hired over the 2022-23 fiscal year. This is not including $6,716,000 in the Public Safety Capital Expense budget, which RPD is able to use for long-term projects.
Rochester activists have been calling for change to public safety for decades with little coverage from our local corporate media. In 2019, 75% of Rochester voters voted to create the Police Accountability Board to investigate police misconduct and recommend changes to RPD policies. In May 2020, the world watched George Floyd be killed by four Minneapolis police officers. Our community responded through protest – out of anger, frustration, and sadness. Our city leaders sought to reassure us that this would never happen in Rochester. Just a few months later, we found out that it had happened – in March 2020 – and it had been covered up.
Again, our community responded through protest, demanding justice for Daniel Prude and for changes to public safety. The community demanded a change to how mental health calls were handled and for a community-based, proactive approach to crime and violence. There were also calls for de-militarizing RPD and shifting those funds back into our community.
Has City Hall listened to us?
As part of every proposed budget document, a section is included called the Community Input Planning Process. This section summarizes the feedback received from citizens in an online forum, a telephone town hall, and an online survey. Per the City’s very own 2021-2022 budget document: “Nearly half of all comments received on the community survey were specific to the Rochester Police Department. Of these comments about policing, about 15% were in favor of maintaining or increasing police services, while the remainder called for a shift of funding from the RPD to other services needs [sic] in the city.”
85% of respondents commented to demand we cut the RPD budget after witnessing the brutality inflicted upon Daniel Prude and the thousands of protesters that called for justice. There is plenty of evidence that a majority of Rochester citizens lack trust in the police department, including the comments below that the City provided in their 2021-2022 budget document:
“The Police Department is 1/5th of our budget while other services like housing, youth, jobs programs, recreation, libraries, Pathways to Peace, Crisis Intervention Services, Police Accountability Board get a fraction of the funding. I request the City reallocate funding away from Police to invest in programs that create strong and safe communities.”
“Reallocate monies from law enforcement into mental health, social work and community services.”
“Police is a reactionary service for after something has gone wrong. We need to invest in proactive measures that disincentivize the need to activate a Police response.”
“We want a thorough reimagining of public safety, rather than piecemeal reform.”
“Cut Police spending by a substantial percentage.”
“Make our city safer by drastically reducing the RPD budget. There are scores of examples shown that increased Police budgets do not create a safer city.”
“Defund the Police and put money towards services that better our community and address systemic racism.”
This feedback was provided over a year ago – plenty of time for the City to adapt its budget plan for 2022-2023. But the City hasn’t made any significant changes to the RPD budget. City Hall hasn’t been listening to us, so let’s make sure City Council does.
Let’s stop using the police to kick our unhoused neighbors out of parking garages and help landlords kick our neighbors out of their homes.
Let’s stop having the police harass and arrest our neighbors that have addiction issues.
Let’s stop using the police to provide “asset protection” for local grocery stores.
Let’s stop having the police respond to calls for people in mental health crises.
We can provide quality, affordable housing to all of our citizens.
We can make our streets and sidewalks accessible for people of all abilities and improve public transportation availability.
We can open safe injection sites that provide medical care and resources for people with addictions.
We can ban crisis pregnancy centers that use fake medical advice and manipulative tactics to force people to give birth.
We can demand our local businesses pay all their workers a living wage.
We can fund programs that provide healthy meals for our children year-round.
Tell City Council what matters to you: let’s cut police funding and reinvest in our communities.
Attend the Rochester Budget Speak Out & Teach In on Wednesday, June 8th, 6PM-7:30PM at the Kate Gleason Auditorium, Rochester Central Library, 115 South Ave.
Call your City Councilmembers:
Miguel Melendez (At-Large): 585-428-6056
Mitch Gruber (At-Large): 585-428-6924
Stanley Martin (At-Large): 585-428-6935
Mary Lupien (East): 585-428-7513
Michael Patterson (Northeast): 585-451-2024
Jose Peo (Northwest): 585-428-7554
Call the City Council office at 585-428-7538 and ask to speak to:
Willie Lightfoot (At-Large)
Kim Smith (At-Large)
LaShay Harris (South)
Show up to the June 14th City Council Meeting to speak to Council at 6:30PM
- Call 585-428-7538 or email email@example.com before 3PM on June 14th to speak to Council, submit a voicemail comment, or a written comment to be read aloud.
Join ROC DSA – the fight to reinvest in our communities doesn’t end with the June 14th Council vote.