Tri-Cities added to website offering email templates asking city leaders to reallocate police budgets

KENNEWICK, Wash. — As protests sparked by George Floyd’s death continue, “black lives matter” isn’t the only resounding call. Some protesters are asking for cities to “defund police.”

While some want to abolish departments completely, like members of the Minneapolis City Council, the call to defund police departments isn’t quite that extreme for others. Rather, the goal boils down to redistribution of funding and redesignation of roles.

“We’re focusing on a reconstruction of the police department because currently it feels like the police are seen as the catchall solution for all problems,” said the creator of “Defund 12 Tri-Cities,” who wanted to remain anonymous.

She reached out to the group behind Defend12.org to get Kennewick, Richland and Pasco added to the list of cities on their website.

The site allows you to look up your city and find a pre-written template addressed to city leaders calling for some of that money to be redirected. Instead, that funding would go toward improving mental health response teams, homeless shelters and funding drug addiction treatment centers.

Spokespersons for the City of Kennewick, Pasco and Richland said they have all received some letters regarding the issue, though they weren’t sure of an exact number.

Evelyn Lusignan with the City of Kennewick said city council members are currently working on the 2021-2022 budget which needs to be approved in November. As part of that process, police will give updates on their department at an upcoming public workshop on July 14.

In Pasco, there will be an in-depth look at the Pasco Police Department’s Use of Force policy at the June 22 meeting.

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