Reinvestment options and examples
There exist a wide range of programs and expenditures in which localities have invested to foster public safety. Here are a number of examples to draw from.
Reinvest money into social programs that support
- Affordable housing and programming/housing for people who are houseless (Austin, Portland, OR)
- Youth programming (Portland, OR)
- Jobs training and other programming (Austin)
- Domestic violence support programs (Austin)
- Substance abuse programs
- Other investments in BIPOC communities (Seattle)
- Participatory budgeting projects to determine community priorities for funding (Seattle)
Create programs that take on functions traditionally performed by police
- Start a non-police emergency response program that begins to chip away at the percentage of 911 calls responded to by police (CAHOOTS [Eugene, OR], Oakland, Portland, OR, Austin, Seattle, Minneapolis)
- Create a traffic safety infrastructure that begins to chip away at the number of traffic enforcement functions performed by police (Berkeley)
- Invest in restorative justice and other youth-centered programs to empower youth and foster safety (See, for example, Oakland Unified School District’s restorative justice program)
- Invest in violence prevention programs to demonstrate that urgent need to expand violence interrupters, outreach workers, and opportunities for the most at-risk residents (Seattle, Minneapolis, Austin)
Make a commitment to anti-racist spending
- For example, LA County’s measure J, which was passed by voter referendum in 2020, requires LA County to allocate 10% of its general fund to go toward anti-racist agencies and services, including youth services and alternatives to incarceration.
Take advantage of federal funding opportunities
- American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money is broadly available for community safety programs. This report by Civil Rights Corps lays out a number of strategies and examples for using these funds to advance community safety. The Vera Institute of Justice is tracking dozens of local expenditures on community safety using ARPA funds.
- Baltimore’s Mayor announced the city will spend $50 million of its ARPA funds on violence prevention efforts, such as gun violence prevention, reentry supports, trauma informed care, and administrative and personnel purposes associated with these programs.
- St. Louis allocated $80 million of its ARPA funding to a public safety plan that includes violence intervention programs, youth jobs and programming, community crisis response, direct cash relief, and housing programs.
Create dedicated funding for community safety programs by establishing dedicated revenue sources
- Olympia funded its crisis response program via a public safety property tax levy passed at the ballot in 2017.
- Denver funded its STAR mental health response program pilot and has partially funded expansion efforts through the Caring for Denver fund created by a 2018 ballot initiative.
- San Francisco’s Prop C ballot measure, passed in 2018, levies a progressive gross receipts tax on the city’s biggest businesses, generating about $300 million annually that is dedicated to mental health, housing, and homeless services.