Strategies to consider

Here are a number of strategies to consider as you determine which functions and expenditures of the police budget to evaluate.

Reduce funding
  • Reduce overtime budget, including not allowing increases if a department overdraws their overtime budget (Austin)
  • Restrict and/or mandate strict oversight over exceeding projected overtime expenditures (Washington, DC)
  • Reduce police recruitment budgets and bonuses (Seattle)
  • Reduce the number of police officers
  • Reduce police public relations and legal defense budgets
Refuse and/or redirect federal grants
  • Several localities have rejected or withdrawn their governments from soliciting COPS Hiring Program grants, which subsidize police personnel increases for a three year term that requires a local funding match and long-term maintenance of the staffing level made possible by the grant. (Antioch, CA; Minneapolis; Milwaukee) [Milwaukee: The city declined a COPS grant under the Trump administration but has recently reversed their decision, accepting the same grant.]
  • Some localities have sought to utilize COPS Hiring Program grants for community safety purposes that do not involve police, which is not currently permitted by the Department of Justice (DOJ). Nevertheless, localities can attempt to seek waivers from the DOJ to utilize COPS grants for community safety programs. Here is a fact sheet and explainer about this effort.
Shrink police power
Shrink police department scope and shift functions to other departments
  • Cut units such as homeless “outreach” units, mounted and canine units, vice units, and units charged with targeting protesters or surveilling communities. (Portland, OR, Seattle, Minneapolis). Move and fund positive functions, such as homeless outreach, to other departments.
  • Eliminate gang/gun violence units, which in many localities, have been rife with racially discriminatory policing and abuses, as well as ineffective at reducing gun violence. (New York City; Portland, OR) [However, Portland decided to reestablish the unit, with changes including better oversight.]
  • End contracts for police in schools, parks, public transportation, and homelessness response. (Portland, OR; Milwaukee; Burlington, VT)
  • End police involvement with homeless outreach/response, responses to mental health crises, youth engagement, and enforcement of public health orders. (Portland, OR; Seattle)
  • End enforcement of (or repeal) public order laws and decriminalize drug possession, “quality of life” offenses (such as loitering, truancy, and disorderly conduct), and survival-based offenses, including sex work. (Oregon)
  • Stop collaboration with ICE, Joint Terorrism task forces, and other surveillance structures. (See “An End to the Co-optation of Local Law Enforcement for Federal Immigration Enforcement” metric.)
  • Reduce and realign police patrol divisions, which are currently primarily responsible for responding to 911 calls, to focus on responding to serious and violent incidents. Replace police responses with civilian response programs, including crisis intervention specialists, mental health workers, and street outreach workers. (CAHOOTS [Eugene, OR]; Oakland; Portland, OR; Austin; Seattle; Minneapolis)
  • Move certain departments/functions out of the police department:
Block and regulate the acquisition of police department equipment