What makes us safe? A safe community is not hungry, its members receive care when they are sick, older adults don’t worry about surviving summers without air-conditioning or support, young people are loved and cared for, and transportation is not a barrier.
We don’t have to look far to see safer communities. In Fort Worth and across the country, safer communities have valued members, strong social bonds, and more resources.
A strong public safety budget should support all of these things, but the reality is that Fort Worth gives police and fire departments the majority of our city’s general fund. What we fund says a lot about what we believe. When our money is so tied up in crime reaction and control, we are not addressing the root causes of violence or investing in building safer communities.
The city’s Crime Control and Prevention District (CCPD) is on the ballot right now, and with it comes an opportunity to put our morals on paper. Fort Worth spends nearly $1 million per day on policing, with a combined $267 million from the city’s general fund and $80 million annually from the CCPD. Prop A would renew CCPD funding for another 10 years, creating a $1 billion tax burden in addition to a very large annual police budget.
Only 6% of CCPD funds go toward community programs. By voting against Prop A, we can create some space in our budget for the things that truly make safer and stronger communities.
Fort Worth’s police budget continues to grow year after year, despite cuts to other critical areas and claims that there is no money to invest in improving food security, access to health care, and other basic needs.
As we invest less in our communities, our demand for policing increases and cycles of violence are perpetuated. Disrupting harm and violence requires investing in alternatives to policing that actually make us safer, like mental health care, community de-escalation, and transformative justice.
In the wake of the murders of Atatiana Jefferson, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many more minorities, we have to ask if police are keeping us safe.
We know policing costs Fort Worth close to $350 million every year. What else is it costing us? What aren’t we investing in? What kinds of safety are we ignoring?
To build toward a future free from violence together, we need real input in our city spending, investment in programs that nurture and support our neighborhoods, and alternatives to policing that strengthen community bonds and facilitate accountability.
Vote against Prop A on July 14 to defund CCPD. Picture a future Fort Worth with us where everyone has what they need. Imagine a future in which policing is unnecessary. Let’s create a public safety budget that gets us closer. — Jen Sarduy and Lizzie Maldonado
Jen Sarduy lives in Fort Worth, where they organize at Re+Birth Equity Alliance.
Lizzie Maldonado is a community organizer and director of the Fort Worth harm reduction organization O.D. Aid.