Divesting from the Dearborn Police means making resources available for programs which make our communities safer, more livable, and more compassionate. As these resources become available, we request that they are put towards offering antiracist services. These recommendations include funding:
Establish a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Commission
Nationwide, health and economic disparities are experienced by Black communities and vulnerable populations. While these national trends are well known, recognizing how these trends manifest within the City of Dearborn is required to identify areas of investment that will meaningfully address these disparities through the use of city resources. This commission will identify racial and ethnic trends economic, health, and social outcomes for Dearborn’s communities, and work with other governmental departments to implement policies that address these disparities.
Public Defenders to Provide Indigent Defense
With a large portion of Dearborn Police Department’s efforts concentrated on criminalizing poverty in general, and Black poverty in particular, the adequate funding of effective indigent defense is recommended to mitigate this harm. Currently, indigent defense in the City of Dearborn is contracted to private law firms. Establishing a Public Defender’s office to offer these services instead would provide more effective representation. Communities with full-time Public Defenders see fewer false convictions and less extreme sentencing (Yale Law Journal, 2012).
Establish Non Police Responders
The City of Dearborn is unnecessarily criminalizing our communities by using police to respond to calls that would be better handled through other services. We deman the establishment of non-police traffic safety responders, municipal services responders, and human services responders. These personnel would provide responses to calls to service that reflects the needs of Dearborn’s communities. These alternative service providers must be authorized to make decisions that address and resolve the issues they are confronted with, and provided with adequate funding to enact changes in our communities.
Transfer the enforcement of civil traffic laws to an agency dedicated to road safety that is not tasked with the enforcement of criminal laws. The Justice Collaborative Institute released a 2020 report detailing guidance for making this shift.
Establish non-police municipal responders to address concerns relating to road hazards, animal complaints, permitting, and other municipal issues.
Provide non-police human services responders for calls relating to domestic issues, mental/behavioral health crises, and conflict resolution. Other communities can provide guidance on establishing these types of unarmed responders:
Prepare Community Members to Respond to Non-Emergency Situations
Provide stipends and child care services for community members to attend no-cost trainings to address a wider range of non-emergency situations. This will empower community members to address issues before they escalate to a place of emergency, and reduce the community’s reliance on emergency responders. Preparing community members to effectively address a wider range of situations can eliminate response times for certain situations by the provision of aid through an individual who is already in the household, or is nearby.
These trainings can be funded by the city, and offered through neighborhood associations. The types of trainings can be:
Barriers to Driving Legally
In 2019, 10% of citations written by Dearborn Police Officers were for defective vehicle equipment. Partnering up with local mechanics to provide no-cost basic vehicle maintenance is a preventative measure to ensure that vehicles driving on Dearborn’s streets are safe and road-ready. This up-front investment keeps our roads safer and reduces the likelihood that motorists in Dearborn will be criminalized.
The cost of driver’s training prevents low-income new drivers from attending and completing driver’s training courses. Phase 1 and phase 2 drivers’ training courses prepare drivers to be more responsible on the road, as well as covering important details like the legal implications of insurance coverage, and license renewal. We recommend the provision of no-cost drivers training courses, available to all members of Dearborn and neighboring communities, with admission priority given based on income level.
Reinstate and Establish City Services that Support Human Needs
We recommend the City of Dearborn establish service offerings which address human needs. While the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Commission will provide ongoing and targeted solutions, the City of Dearborn can immediately commit resources to establishing and adequately funding access to water, housing, and healthcare.
Access to water includes adequately funding the Department of Public works from the city’s general fund to reduce water rates and prevent future increases. In addition to across the board reductions in water rates, it is recommended that the city increase funding for the water bill relief fund.
Access to housing includes adequately funding income-based housing options for families and individuals that are transparently shared and made available without restrictions based on criminal record. In addition to increasing the availability of income-based housing alternatives, it is recommended that the city establish an eviction relief fund.
Access to physical health and healthcare includes re-opening of the city’s Public Health Department. In addition to providing vital healthcare services to 15,000 patients annually, Public Health departments play a vital role in identifying health disparities and developing policy solutions that address the causes of those disparities.
Access to mental healthcare includes establishing affordable alternatives to carceral settings. We recommend the establishment of non-compulsory, peer-supported temporary residential respite care facilities. These facilities have been shown to reduce the likelihood of inpatient admission by 70% (Croft & İsvan, 2015). Respite care can “increase meaningful choices for recovery and decrease the behavioral health system’s reliance on costly, coercive, and less person-centered modes of service delivery” (Croft & İsvan, 2015, p. 1).
Finally, the City of Dearborn must adequately fund accessibility in government operations to promote ongoing community involvement. This includes working with disability consultants to ensure all city government communications and spaces are not only compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act standards, but also fully accessible. In addition the City must incorporate comprehensive Arabic language services for all city documents and proceedings. Finally, we recommend the city offer childcare services at all in-person public city meetings.