Tuesday, June 23, 2020

248 Words: Praising Louisville’s revolutionary police budget proposal

You would never know it from today’s CJ headline—"Metro Council unwilling to defund police department”—but I believe the council’s proposed police budget is about to revolutionize justice in this community and turn Louisville into an international model for sound policing. Yes, you read that right. Of course, the devil is always in the details. But if you read the details in this story, this conclusion is inescapable. In my opinion, what the council wants to do is incredible, taking the most positive step in our city’s checkered history of criminal injustice. According to the newspaper, “state and federal forfeiture funds would go toward police recruitment, training and exploration of co-responders, like behavioral health specialists, over equipment. It also proposes setting aside more than $750,000 for a civilian oversight system, an independent body to investigate the police department.” It doesn’t end there. “Rather than using the dollars on police equipment or other law enforcement purposes, it would send the roughly $1.2 million to explore ‘deflection,’ the idea of moving people away from the criminal justice system and toward a behavioral health model, which could include assigning co-responders with police. That might look, for instance, like a case manager assigned to respond with police to help people get connected to treatment, housing or other services.” If adopted and implemented faithfully and fully, policing in Louisville will be changed forever for the better. I have never felt prouder or more hopeful of our local leadership than is this moment.

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