Written by Care First South Pasadena
[The following letter will be sent to South Pasadena Mayor and City Council. Please click here to sign. Signatures will be accepted until Wednesday, September 2, 2020.]
Mayor Bob Joe
City Council Members Michael Cacciotti, Diana Mahmud, Richard Schneider
Dear Mr. Mayor and City Council:
Our jails are filled with people struggling with poverty, mental health needs and homelessness. Far too many people enter the criminal justice system instead of getting the resources they need to avoid contact with the system in the first place. We have seen routine contacts with law enforcement escalate into tragedies taking a disproportionate number of black lives. It is time for a new vision of public safety, one centered on health solutions and services provided in the community so that police intervention is the last option rather than the first and only response.
Here in South Pasadena, we support a Care First approach that reallocates resources from jails and law enforcement to programs that promote health, safety and welfare of communities. We demand that our city leaders adopt the priorities of a Care First approach as developed by the Los Angeles County Work Group on Alternatives to Incarceration. It is time to start realigning our city budget to support community services, not excessive levels of policing.
The city is in a budget crisis. We demand a good-faith minimum 15% cut to the South Pasadena Police Department (SPPD) budget. Any expansion of the police budget should be halted. Below are our recommended immediate cuts to expenditures:
1) We demand fewer police officers on the payroll. Wage and benefit expense has increased by $1.2 million (17%) since 2016-17 while the crime rate has fallen. Total patrol staffing is out of proportion to patrol scheduling as reported in the SPPD’s organizational chart.
2) The SPPD owns 32 vehicles at an annual maintenance cost of $100,000. With fewer than 10 officers on patrol at any given moment, this expense is unjustified. We demand that some of these assets be sold, and the SPPD implement bicycle patrolling where feasible. As helicopter patrols are unpopular with residents and problematic in terms of privacy, noise and carbon emissions, we demand that the $30,000 contract with the Foothill Air Support Team be terminated.
3) During this time, we request that the city enlist an independent audit of the SPPD. See City of Sebastopol.
We request a meeting in advance of the September 2nd City Council meeting to discuss these demands. Please reply at your earliest convenience with an appropriate time and forum. We look forward to working with you.
 See Care First, Jails Last: Health and Racial Justice Strategies for Safer Communities (2020), https://lacalternatives.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/ATI-Final-Report.pdf; JusticeLA, Care First Budget: LA County Reimagined Fiscal Year 2020-2021 (2020), https://justicelanow.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/CareFirstLABudget_2020.pdf.
 Sebastopol City Council Policing Review Process https://www.ci.sebastopol.ca.us/getattachment/Meeting-Event/City-Council/2020/City-Council-Special-Meeting-of-June-30,-2020/Sebastopol-City-Council-Policing-Review-presentation-(002).pdf.aspx
This article represents the views and opinions of the author solely and does not express the opinions of all ARC members.