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“If the demand is going away and there’s someone better to deal with that, then the funding may well go. It makes sense,” Neufeld said. “We become the de facto response to everything, and it’s a reasonable conversation to say that perhaps we shouldn’t be.”
Mayor Naheed Nenshi said there’s work ahead to make sure people from racialized communities don’t feel targeted by police, or someone having a mental-health or addictions crisis isn’t in danger if a police officer shows up to a wellness check.
But the mayor said that might not mean cutting back the police budget and putting the money toward other social programs or supports, a move advocated by proponents of defunding the police. And that process will take more time than the two months before this year’s city budget adjustments.
He said specifics about how to proceed with potentially moving some responsibilities away from police is an “open question.”
“We have to create a system — not just say, ‘Take money away and we’ll put it toward something amorphous,’ ” Nenshi said.
“It’s about working with (the police commission) and the police service and politicians and community members to say, ‘Let’s design a system where when you phone 911 or you approach or are approached by a police officer on the street, ultimately that leads to greater safety for everyone in the community.’”
Neufeld presented a report to council outlining other action CPS plans to take, including collecting race-based data in citizen interactions and commissioning an independent review of the school resource officer (SRO) program. That review is planned to start early next year.