PRESS RELEASE: If Our Lives Matter, Why Are We Defunding the Police?

October 4, 2021.

I’m Audrey Clement, Independent candidate for Arlington County Board on November 2, and I’m concerned about reports that the Arlington County Police Department (ACPD) is seriously understaffed.

A recent ARLnow story indicates that the police force has 50 fewer officers than it needs on the street. Although new recruits have been hired, many more plan to leave for better jobs elsewhere by the end of the year.

ARLnow quoted an insider who said: Morale is extremely low. Based on survey results, another 40+ officers plan to leave before the end of the year. I hate to say it, but the police department is a sinking ship right now.”

While Arlington County has not explicitly endorsed widespread calls to defund the police, its budgetary priorities have produced the same net result. For example, the County’s FY22 budget guts twenty vacant Police and Sheriff Department positions. It also freezes a host of other police related jobs, including reductions in the 9-1-1 call center (Budget Book, p.42).

ACPD staffing shortages could not have occurred at a worse time from the standpoint of public safety. Just last week the FBI released its annual crime statistics report showing a 30 percent increase in gun related murders nationwide. Those murders are associated with a surge in gun purchases and the incentive to use them due to reduced police presence on the streets of major cities.

Under these circumstances, defunding the police is sheer folly. Police reforms are needed no doubt about it. In recognition of that fact the General Assembly adopted a host of police reforms earlier this year.

If elected I am going to reverse cuts in police staffing, until the effects of recent reform legislation can be assessed. I will also:

  • Seek immediate tax relief for residents and businesses.
  • Say YES to affordable housing and NO to “Missing Middle” up-zoning.
  • Save our parks, streams and tree canopy and stop clearcutting wooded areas on public property.
  • Say YES to real social justice reforms and NO to symbolic gestures.

As a 17-year Westover resident, long-time civic activist and former member of the Transportation Commission, I have both the experience and independence to promote these reforms.

If you share my agenda, then:

  • Spread the word about my candidacy.
  • Donate to my campaign.

Help make the “Arlington Way” more than an empty phrase

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