As the City of Asheville works to prepare a proposed fiscal year 2022-2023 budget, it’s a good time to pause, look back and assess the work and accomplishments towards the priorities of the past year.
Council Identified Priorities for Fiscal Year 2021-2022
- Reimaging Public Safety
- Utilization of ARPA Funding
- Employee Compensation
What is Reimagining Public Safety?
Reimaging public safety means examining how the City of Asheville structures department responsibilities and community partnerships in a way that promotes racial equity and economic inclusion.
It provides an opportunity for us, as a community, to explore the traditional roles and responsibilities assigned to different departments. One aim of Reimagining public safety is to explore the concept of changing how we think about policing, our police force and their responsibilities. Shifting some duties that might be better carried out in other ways or with other partnerships, allows police to focus on their main goal of protecting the community from crime.
When the City Council made Reimagining a priority, they knew it would be a long term commitment, asking everyone in our community to redefine not only how and who responds to a public safety concern, but to identify root causes behind potential threats as well. Reimagining means redefining which agencies, ideally a coordinated team with unique areas of expertise, are best to respond to any given threat.
The importance of this commitment to public safety is reflected in the adoption of Reimagining Public safety, once again, as one of the City Council 6 priorities of fiscal year 2023.
The City of Asheville staff have taken measures to continue to support this priority. September 2020, staff utilized community input to inform proposals and programs that incorporates the “reimagining” lens.
- Response to nuisance calls: noise complaints and animal control – moved from APD to the Development Services Department (DSD)
- integration of the County’s community paramedic program with APD and AFD: emergency response to calls for: overdose, suicide, or mental health crises.
- More training for police officers
- Creating the Office of Data and Performance
- Investing in community engagement including an inclusive and accessible government to strengthen community resilience by supporting leadership and capacity building in historically disenfranchised communities.
These are some of the examples of how City of Asheville has worked to make Reimagining Public Safety a livable concept. But, please know this is only the beginning. The City, its staff and the City Council are committed to the ongoing work that will be needed by all of us in the coming months and years to reimagine public safety in Asheville.