My planned defund the police speech for Pittsburgh City Council meeting on July 15, 2020
Good evening. I’m Kalin Ringkvist. I’m a software engineer, real-estate investor, and police brutality survivor.
Through my 41 years I have seen over and over again, law enforcement being counter-productive to actual crime prevention. If you take the time to genuinely listen to people who have been harmed by police, you will have no choice but to conclude that police are driving people to commit more crime, not less.
When I was in my early twenties, I talked someone down when he was about to murder one of my friends with a knife. Neither myself nor the victim called the police and we stand by that decision. But it sure would have been helpful if there had been some sort of mental-health professional we could have called.
Despite the system being set up to protect rich white people like myself, I know I would be better off dealing with a knife-wielding maniac on my own instead of calling police.
Something needs to change. The proposals today do not go nearly far enough but they are a good first step.
First, the duty to intervene, which should already be a basic expectation. Part of my job is to make sure other software developers aren’t doing anything inappropriate. This is a basic concept in practically every profession out there. The idea that this is not already required of police, is terrifying.
Next is the proposal to demilitarize. Again, common sense. We are trying to affect social change for our communities which are struggling with poverty and mental health issues. We are not fighting super-villains. Militarized police serve no purpose other than to alienate peaceful citizens and force criminals deeper into their life of crime.
We also have a proposal to take $250,000, which represents less than one quarter of one percent of the police budget. When a city spends over $100 million dollars per year on police but only a tiny fraction of that on mental health, youth diversions and other social programs that have been proven to actually reduce crime, we have a serious problem that is only going to spiral out of control in the coming years.
You have the opportunity to make a difference here. You can be on the right side of history. You can reduce crime, improve our economy, increase respect for law enforcement, increase respect for government and yourselves, protect the lives of citizens and police, and address the actual issues that cause crime. I’d like to beg you to please support these initiatives today but recognize that we need so much more. Please show me that you have the courage to do the right thing.
Thank you very much.
Kalin Ringkvist is a queer, atheist, web developer, science fiction author, real estate investor, and police brutality survivor. In 2020 he is taking a break from the personal data organizer application he’s building to write about current social issues, particularly the call to defund the police.