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We’ve experienced several peaceful demonstrations over the past few weeks in Bremerton and across Kitsap County in response to the murder of George Floyd while he was in police custody. The demonstrations have exposed the racial injustices experienced by African Americans as well as communities of color in cities and states across the U.S.
During this time, there have been calls to “defund the police” and invest more money in social services for mental health, drug and alcohol addiction, as well as homelessness to address underlying factors in our community that contribute to poverty and racial inequities. In a previous message on June 3, I discussed police reforms, which can be viewed here. As Mayor, my focus is to continue those reform efforts, to maintain police funding (which I view as important to serve our City), and to initiate a number of new social programs to benefit our citizens. All three I believe are imperative for building a safe and healthy community.
In Bremerton, over the past two years, we have been creating new ways to support underrepresented and vulnerable populations and to address issues where officers may be called to handle situations. As part of long-term solutions, we have been putting in place new social services to help residents fairly receive housing, counseling and addiction treatment. I want to share some of these new areas that are under development and what we are continuing to work on:
I believe we need real-world solutions to some of the issues facing our community. We must maintain a strong budget for our police department to serve the public while also offering programs that will make a difference to improving lives. We know there’s more to do and we will continue to adapt and change going forward.