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Online petition calling for defunding of Regina Police Service gains speed

Policing is often Regina's main expense and in 2020, the budget was almost $4 million higher than in 2019. Now, some are calling to put an end to the funding.

Sam Edwards High Level, Alberta
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A petition was started on Thursday, to defund the Regina Police Service.

In 2020, a $96 million budget was approved for the service by the City of Regina, reports CBC News.

Policing is often the city’s main expense and this years budget was almost $4 million higher than in 2019. Now, some are calling to put an end to the funding.

The petition—on change.org—says that it was started by "concerned citizens."

"The police budget increases while community groups like White Pony Lodge and Mobile Crisis, which provide low-cost alternatives to policing, are forced to rely on Go Fund Me campaigns, personal donations, and small grants from the city," says the website.

"[This is] in spite of the fact that they provide many of the same services as police, without requiring weaponry, communications departments, cells, or armoured vehicles."

When speaking about the petition, police Chief, Evan Bray said that Regina is facing challenges that are "rooted in social justice issues, and so we have to find a way that we can find an adequate level of funding for everything."

"I know that there's lots of work to be done on proper funding of medical issues and social issues, because if we can dig into those root causes, we can truly make a meaningful difference in our police services committed to that work as well," he added.

Since the death of George Floyd on May 25, similar calls to defund police have been made in other cities.

The petition in Regina asks for city council and Mayor Michael Fougere to:

1. To never again vote to increase the Regina Police Service budget.

2. To halt all hiring of additional officers, the purchase of additional equipment, and the planned expansion of the RPS headquarters and divest.

3. To prioritize the expansion of community-led health and safety initiatives over future financial investment into the RPS. Withhold pensions and don’t rehire cops involved in excessive force cases.

4. Require police to be liable for misconduct settlements.

5. Stop sending armed/uniformed officers on mental health-related calls.

6. Pledge to disarm and demilitarize the RPS (e.g. strip them of guns and military-style tactical gear, and dispossess of the tank.)

"An increased police presence does not keep us safe, rather it directly threatens the lives of our most vulnerable communities," wrote creators of the petition.

As of Monday, the petition has 2,300 signatures.

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