Group wants Durham police funding to be diverted to education, jobs
Posted April 10
Durham, N.C. — A group of Durham citizens is asking the city council to reject any request from the Durham Police Department for more funding. Instead, the group wants the money to go toward education or better paying jobs.
"The money that we spend on policing, arresting and imprisoning low income black or brown people, we should be using to fund people's needs like education, jobs, job training, mental health services, childcare, all of these things that would actually do a lot more to reduce what we punish as crime," said Mina Ezikpe, a part of the group Durham Beyond Policing.
The group says the citizens most affected by the policing should be able to decide where the money goes.
"In order for the police department to even act, or even be an ethical institution, there has to be accountability," said Ezikpe. "And that accountability, we believe, should be tied to their funding, so new money for police this year is a way of saying, 'We see you. We're watching you, and we are holding you accountable.'"
Councilmembers Jillian Johnson and Charlie Reece agree, and say policing is not the way to end violence.
In a statement, Reece said "I remain focused on finding new ways to promote economic opportunity for all residents of Durham. Because that's how we're going to reduce crime in this city."
The Durham City Council has already approved many items in this year's budget, but those decisions aren't final yet. Both Johnson and Reece said they do not expect to support any additional money for Durham Police.
City council already approved pay raises to go into effect next fiscal year for Durham Police Officers. The City Manager says he'll present his budget May 15, and the council will vote on it in June.
Durham Police declined to comment for this story.