Research notes on defunding the police, from Halifax

Halifax Subcommittee finds that "defunding is not only about removal of funds from police, but also about investing in social structures and organizations and creating separate, new models of safety based in communities and their concerns."

The hard work of an important committee in Halifax has recently come to fruition. The Subcommittee to Define Defunding the Police have finished their research, their surveys, and their deliberations and they’ve published their report.

Defunding the Police: Defining the Way Forward for HRM (PDF)

It’s worth a read (or a skim). The lead authors are Tari Ajadi, Harry Critchley, El Jones, and Julia Rodgers. The committee is recommending a four pillar approach:

  1. Pillar #1: Reforms to police practices, oversight, and accountability.
  2. Pillar #2: Reforms aimed at “detasking” police and “retasking” more appropriate community service providers.
  3. Pillar #3: Legislative, regulatory, and policy reforms intended to promote community safety.
  4. Pillar #4: Financial reforms aimed at tying police budgets to clear performance metrics and encouraging public participation in municipal budgeting, with the ultimate intention of decreasing budgetary allocations to police and increasing allocations to community-based social services.

A few key takeaways from page 77 also caught my eye. They recommend against training; to consider disarming police, and, of course; to increase accountability.

  • The Subcommittee has decided against recommending further training for police, believing it is more productive to focus on actual police practices. One of the Subcommittee’s recommendations is for the Police Board to explore opportunities for disarming certain groups of officers, such as community response officers, and minimizing the use of firearms by police.
  • The Subcommittee also makes several recommendations to enhance police oversight and accountability, which will require the Police Board to fully exercise its civilian governance and policy-making role under the Police Act.

And this short interview with Dr. El Jones on CBC Front Burner is excellent. So great to hear El Jones speak pragmatically about moving funds from violent and superfluous police budget lines. I love the word, “detask.”

You can find a nice slide-deck with chapter-by-chapter report summaries here (PDF).

One Comment

  1. Thanks Sherwin, valuable information. One of the pieces that need to be foregrounded as we move towards sustainable living, whether it is community management (“policing”) or climate change is the need for transition planning. There is a time when we’ll have to spend extra money having two systems going, the old one that we’re trying to wind down, and the new one we’re moving towards. I like how pillar 4 addresses that indirectly, but it needs to be explicit.

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