Step 2: Determine Goals and Budget Reallocations

Investing in communities is the best way to build real safety. That's why we must invest in resources and programs that foster the strength, well-being, resiliency, and safety of BIPOC and low-income communities. It is evident that police departments and their budgets have grown at the expense of these investments and it is necessary to rethink the scope, function, and power of police. 

This section provides a menu of options regarding reallocations of police budgets as well as ways to shrink the scope, function, and power of police departments. An important framing question to ask yourselves as you decide your goals is: Which current police functions could be reassigned to and performed better by others? The next section, “Step 3,” will focus on programs to invest in to build public safety for everyone.

By far, the largest expenditure in police department budgets is personnel. Thus, you must be prepared to address personnel expenses, which often entails navigating collective bargaining agreements and/or state or charter requirements.This section will provide you with guidance and a number of examples of how to identify potential reallocations in a range of short and long term ways.

Strategies to consider


Narrative Resources

Creating a commitment to good public safety jobs outside of policing

In considering which functions and services should be performed by other people instead of police, a central tenet of that effort ought to be ensuring high labor standards and job quality for those public safety professionals. If we believe that mental health and crisis response, homelessness services and outreach, and violence prevention, for example, are pillars of a vision of public safety, then the jobs that make up those services should be sustainable, desirable, and family-sustaining public sector careers. Here are a few principles and questions to keep in mind as you strategize around reinvestment goals:

Gain a careful understanding of who is affected by these shifts.
Would you be creating a new workforce / job role or transitioning personnel from one department to another?
  • If creating a new workforce, how are you setting a high standard for those jobs with regard to job quality and collective bargaining rights?
  • If transitioning personnel, how are you ensuring those workers have a voice in the transition and a maintenance of the job quality?
Create non-police public safety jobs that are a model of high road employment.
The people performing these jobs will likely work in a high stress environment, working with people in distress and communities most impacted by inequities and public health issues. To achieve enduring programs of public safety, the jobs that make up these programs should be as good as other emergency response jobs and lead to sustainable careers.
Push for creating in-house jobs over contracted services.
When creating alternative programs to policing, many localities have chosen to contract those services out to a local non-profit provider. That option is sometimes the quickest or most effective way to launch a program. But ultimately, localities should strive to create these positions as bonafide public sector jobs as part of local government, both to provide job quality and benefits but also to send a message that these jobs are just as valuable as other local government services. Olympia, WA, for instance, moved its Crisis Response Unit from contracted to city employees in 2021, bringing along nearly every team member in the transition.
Include and prioritize hiring people who are from the communities most impacted by the issue at stake.
Several community response programs include a peer worker or peer specialist in addition to a licensed therapist and EMT in their teams, for example. Staffing public safety programs with people from the communities most impacted by violence or most likely to interact with the service is critical toward ensuring the service is culturally competent, durable, and prioritizing the specific needs of those communities.