JUFJ has been working with partners on police accountability since 2015, in both Baltimore City and Baltimore County. In this moment of national outrage and uprising due to racist police violence, we are more called than ever to truly transform public safety in our region. Decades of work to reform police departments has proven ineffective. We must couple reform with a transition away from a reliance on police to an investment in Black communities and development of alternatives to policing.
Last summer, we successfully worked with Organizing Black and our other partners from the Campaign for Justice, Safety and Jobs to reduce the Baltimore City Police Department’s budget in order to invest in life-giving services for the people of our city. Unfortunately, the Mayor refused to reallocate those funds, so they sat unused. We therefore organized to pass city Ballot Question F, which authorized members of the City Council – not just the Mayor – to reallocate budget funds. This ballot question successfully passed, meaning that in 2023 and beyond our advocacy on the city budget has a greater chance of including reinvestment in crucial services such as housing, education, and community safety.
This spring, we turned to the Fiscal Year 2022 budget. The preliminary budget released by Mayor Scott included an increase of more than $25 million to the Police Department’s budget and a huge cut in the education budget – and the City Council just signed off on it. This is unacceptable. Join us in advocating for a more participatory budget process, and for a budget that invests in people, not in policing them.
Baltimore City Budget Season: Fiscal Year 2022
Baltimore City goes through a budget process each year, with opportunities for community input in the spring. With the increased calls across the city, state and nation to defund police and reimagine public safety, advocating on the operating budget is critical. Working with partners and community leaders across Baltimore City, we can organize to invest in our communities and thereby make our communities safer for everyone. Read on to see how to get involved!
From the Bureau of the Budget and Management Research in Baltimore City: Every year, the City of Baltimore develops a budget for both the operating and capital budgets. The operating budget funds the daily business of the City, specifically covering programs, services, staff, and supplies. The capital budget funds physical infrastructure projects, specifically major renovations and replacements that are long-term investments. While the Department of Finance submits to total budget to the Board of Estimates for review, the Bureau of Budget and Management Research (BBMR) oversees the operating budget planning process and the Department of Planning oversees the capital budget planning process. Learn more about the capital budget by clicking here.
- Thursday, July 15, 7:00 PM: Baltimore Civics Kibitz 2: The Budget Process
- We know we need a more participatory budgeting process that truly allows residents to have a say in how we spend our money. But before we can do that, we need to ask: how does the current process actually work? What is its history? Who *does* have a say? Join us on 7/15 to learn more.
- Thursday, August 12, 6:00 PM: Campaign for Justice, Safety & Jobs Monthly Meeting
- Thursday August 12, 7:00 PM: Baltimore Civics Kibitz 3: City Infrastructure
- BUDGET PUBLICATIONS: https://bbmr.baltimorecity.gov/budget-publications
- Fiscal Year 2022 Preliminary Budget: https://bbmr.baltimorecity.gov/sites/default/files/fy22_prelim_FINAL_web.pdf
- Board of Estimates’ Taxypayers’ Night recording: https://www.charmtvbaltimore.com/video/board-estimates-2021-virtual-taxpayers-night-april-21-2021
- Campaign for Justice, Safety & Jobs 1-pager: CJSJ Defund Police 1-Pager
- Center for Popular Democracy & Communities United: Defund2Refund FY2022 Budget Analysis
- Campaign for Justice, Safety & Jobs “This is Why We Say Defund” recording:
How To Submit Testimony
Did you submit testimony for the City Council’s Taxpayers’ Night? Let us know – email email@example.com
TESTIMONY BEST PRACTICES
- Your goal is to advocate effectively as a constituent & city resident aligned with particular groups and sets of viewpoints. You don’t have to be an expert!
- Appeal to emotion with personal stories when possible
- An emotional story “sticks” with the reader more than facts and figures
- The everyday experience of a constituent is where your authority really lies
- If you don’t have a personal story, talk about your values/why you care about this issue. Make it thoughtful.
- Be concise: one page of single-spaced text is about 3-5 minutes when read aloud relatively quickly. You will only have two minutes!
- Be precise: pick one to three arguments and make those well
- If you are providing oral testimony, practice it out loud!
- For both written and oral, you should address your testimony to the Board of Estimates.
- You should then introduce yourself with your name and what city district you live in.
- Then, state clearly why you are here: I am testifying in support of decreasing police department funding and reinvesting that money in our communities.
- Then, briefly, explain why. End with a reiteration of why you are here.
How to Attend a Virtual Hearing on Webex
ACTION TO BE TAKEN
For Baltimore City residents:
Charter Amendment 19-0379 has been signed by Mayor Young and approved by the Board of Estimates, so that it will now appear on the November ballot. This Charter Amendment will grant City Council the authority to reallocate funds in the budget, not just make cuts. Stay tuned for ways to take action!
To read more about what a Charter Amendment is and what it would do, click here.
For Baltimore County residents:
Councilman Julian Jones, in coordination with the County Executive, introduced a bill that would hold Baltimore County police accountable to the community, restrict use of force, and to make sure that officers who do the right thing are protected from retaliation. Unfortunately, this bill was extremely watered down and did not shift the balance of power away from police into the hands of the community.
JUFJ supported the bill only with the following amendments:
- Extend whistleblower protections
- Require that the Chief of police publicly presents an annual public report before the County Council
- Specify that trained civilians will be appointed as voting members on BCoPD disciplinary hearing boards
Unfortunately, the Baltimore County Council passed this bill WITHOUT the strengthening amendments. Click here to see the final bill language. Check back later for further actions to take for accountable policing in Baltimore County.
We’re making calls in Baltimore County for police accountability. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to pitch in.
Stay tuned for upcoming events.
Click the button to see the entire councils contact information.
August 4 | 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Join JUFJers from across Baltimore to discuss our ongoing issue campaign work. We will share updates for all the local campaigns and brainstorm on how to move the work forward, especially on budget advocacy.
August 12 | 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Join our coalition partners to hear updates on police accountability efforts in Baltimore.
August 12 | 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Join JUFJ in part 3 of our Civics Kibitz Series. Our guest speaker will be the Baltimore City Comptroller, Bill Henry.
September 14 | 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Join us for our next Racial Equity and Policing Team meeting to get updates about current campaigns and take action together. Everyone is welcome!