A March 17 article published by The Sacramento Bee revealed disturbing text messages in a group chat of Eureka police officers sent between January and August of 2020. The text messages display bigoted, racist, misogynist, above-the-law attitudes. These officers have a complete disregard for the individuals in the community that they serve. The institution of policing has harbored these attitudes and behaviors for too long and the community will not take it anymore. We want systemic change, we want all law enforcement to be held accountable to their community. The community demands this accountability. These officers must be fired for our community to feel any semblance of safety, especially for our most vulnerable.
AFTER THEY ARE FIRED, divert the funds to a program similar to Eugene, Oregon’s Cahoots (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets) which is an innovative community-based public safety system to provide mental health first response for crises involving mental illness, homelessness, and addiction.
American Journal of Preventative Medicine estimated that 20% to 50% of fatal encounters with law enforcement involved an individual with a mental illness. Last year, out of a total of roughly 24,000 CAHOOTS calls, police backup was requested only 150 times.
The cost savings are considerable. The CAHOOTS program budget is about $2.1 million annually, while the combined annual budgets for the Eugene and Springfield police departments are $90 million. In 2017, the CAHOOTS teams answered 17% of the Eugene Police Department’s overall call volume. The program saves the city of Eugene an estimated $8.5 million in public safety spending annually.
We need to get the dangerous Texting Squad off the streets and direct city funding to a program that has showed significate success for 31 years. Our community deserves this!!