#HamOnt Police Town Hall

posted on 26 Jan 2021 | HamOnt

I'm a luddite with a land-line.

At 7:30PM today (2021-01-26) I was called to participate in the Hamilton police town hall. I was honestly hoping not to get called because I'm prone to being a wishy-washy centrist and I have a lot of online friends that are much further left I respect the hell out of them, and I feel like I need to fight the good fight for progressive values.

I half-listened while composing an obnoxiously long question for the mayor so I would have my thoughts in order when I asked.

Meanwhile questions from the audience started. I think we got through 5 or 6 overall...

  • First question was a nice old man who wanted to compliment how good of a job our police are doing instead of asking a question.

  • A woman who wanted assurance from the police that they wouldn't taser or shoot her troubled family member. -- Police pointed out that they're limited when problems include edged weapons and the like, and discussed their partnership with mental health professionals and how much that has improved outcomes.

There was a vote-by-phone question where I was asked how I felt the police were tackling recent crises. I was thinking about certain newsmaking events, like how poorly the yellow vest protestors and the Gage park protest went, and gave an unfavorable response.

  • A woman with questions about how the city of Hamilton is tackling the housing problems in the city. Mayor Eisenberger highlighted the extremely high cost of providing affordable housing and homeless spaces. The police highlighted their success in getting people into homeless shelters, and said that they have enough shelter-space that anybody sleeping rough at this point is because they've got problems that preclude them from going to shelters.

I'm definitely missing a few questions. At some point in this latter block of questions, I pressed "3" to indicate I had a question.

  • The next asker started speaking... I don't remember what they asked.

At 8:07PM or thereabouts, the line abruptly disconnected mid-word. I never got the chance to ask my question. City of Hamilton abruptly hung up on me. Rude.

Here's the question I would've asked - "I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time":

From what I've seen, the Hamilton police budget over the last has grown substantially over the last 10 years - faster than population growth, faster than cost-of-living...

Hamilton has its problems, but these problems don't seem better or worse than they were in 2010, so why does policing cost more so much more?

I mean Hamilton's biggest crisis right now isn't crime, it's housing.

Hamilton has a housing problem that's getting worse - council blocks private market-based homebuilding developments because too tall or too big - see the Television City building for example. Affordable or not, even market housing controls the rising price. And they're not increasing funding for subsidized housing to a level that's making any kind of substantial dent in the housing problem either - so neither markets nor government are fixing this.

As far as I know, police are the largest line-item of the city staff budget, why aren't we seeing the same scrutiny on and line-holding on their budget as we see on every other part of the city budget?

I get that Hamiltonians want to support the police, but the same people who support the police also want Hamilton to deal with the housing crisis that has now resulted in literal tent cities, and hold the line on tax hikes.

Something's got to give.

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