Teresa Langness: Practical solutions | TheUnion.com

Teresa Langness: Practical solutions

Former librarian Lisa Nowlain recently spoke out about the 95% of her constituents whose requests drew a police response when a behavioral health worker would’ve better served the need.

She cited the reason: a county budget that allocates 43% of its budget to policing. The question, “Why not just defund the police?” deserves discussion.

Counties and cities could reroute their budgets to other departments, over time. However, if local governments cannot quickly approve new budgets, they could they begin by significantly shifting the percentage of police department jobs toward behavioral health positions. These police partners, working on the same shifts, could appear without badges.

Rather than construct community policing by retraining officers who, in some cases, were groomed in ROTC or on battlefields, they could add paid staff as on-patrol specialists who conduct dispute resolution, who counsel the homeless, the disconsolate, the substance abusers, the violently mentally ill, and who rescue the most vulnerable members of society merely suffering from poverty, grief or displacement due to natural disaster.

Restructuring the budget or rehiring within the same budget might provide responders-of-choice to address the 95% of library calls that do not demand “law enforcement” but compassionate response or “love reinforcement.”

Teresa Langness

Grass Valley

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