ACLU of Georgia

Commissioners Pitch Plan to Partially Defund Athens-Clarke Co Police

By Tim Bryant | WGAU | June 11, 2020 

The Georgia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is endorsing a budget proposal from Athens-Clarke County Commissioners Tim Denson and Mariah Parker, who are looking to reduce the size of the Athens-Clarke County Police Department by 50 percent over the next decade. Denson and Parker want $50,000 to fund a committee that would study a plan to downsize the ACCPD. From A-CC Commissioner Mariah Parker… Athens-Clarke County Commissioners Mariah Parker and Tim Denson released their 50/10 Plan to Reimagine Public Safety, a budget proposal for FY21 that will — in addition to other measures — shrink the size of the Athens-Clarke County Police Department (ACCPD) by 50% over 10 years and invest the cost savings in community supports and unarmed, non-police mental health professionals, social workers, and restorative justice mediators.

The plan will: (1) Allocate $50,000 for a community-based committee to map an implementation plan for the 50/10 goal; (2) Establish another mental health co-responder team for ACCPD; (3) Make permanent 5 ACCPD vacancies and redirecting the savings toward meaningful community resources; (4) Bring 911 dispatch under public control; (5) Fund an additional social worker for the Public Defender’s Office; and (6) Increase Public Defender salaries. Each of these efforts reflects a broader commitment to expanding what counts as public safety, divesting from policing which has devastated communities of color for centuries, and investing in the supports people need to thrive.

“Millions of people now know what my foremothers in the struggle, women like Angela Davis and Ruth Wilson Gilmore, knew decades ago: that our criminal legal system requires full reimagination for justice to exist in this country,“ Commissioner Mariah Parker said. “Honoring decades of Black abolitionist thinking as well as the lives of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, we’ve aimed to translate national heartbreak and a longstanding demand for change into concrete, actionable, localized policy.”

“It is apparent that we must create and fund a system with the supports and capacity necessary for connecting individuals to the resources they need and that’s also capable of helping people through mental health crises,” said Commissioner Tim Denson. “It is ineffective and dangerous to rely on police officers for these needs. We must commit to a new vision of public safety that works for our communities.”

The ACLU of Georgia expressed their strong support in a letter to the ACC Mayor & Commission, saying, “The budget proposal that Commissioners Parker and Denson put forward is the best and most serious effort at tackling this problem currently on the table anywhere in our state. We urge you to enact this bold, thoughtful plan, rather than accept the status quo that results in countless dehumanizing encounters each year: over 1000 annual police killings and tens of millions of lives devastated by mass incarceration.”

Read the full plan here:

The Commission votes on the final budget on Tuesday, June 16, 2020. The meeting begins at 6:00 P.M. and community members are encouraged to share feedback by contacting their Commissioner.

Mariah Parker A-CC Commissioner District 2