We believe that every single one of us deserves to have care, dignity, and the resources we need to care for ourselves and our loved ones - no exceptions. In April 2021, the Coalition for Re-Envisioning Our Safety (CROS) - a multiracial group composed of faith leaders, social workers, therapists, public health and healthcare workers, researchers, community builders, racial justice organizers, community members, and activists - came into being as a community coalition to create support for an unarmed non-police response that our community deserves.
Throughout the past year, CROS has raised public awareness, conducted community engagement, and engaged in significant research - including talking to people across the country who are doing this work. From this, we formed our plan for an unarmed non-police response that is grounded in research and based on our vision of prioritizing care over punishment. Our plan currently has formal endorsements from over 800 individual supporters and over 40 local community organizations.
We are now pushing to make this vision a reality through forming our own unarmed, non-police response program: our research has shown that significant change will only result from a program where there are no ties to law enforcement and a separate dispatch system ( although, 911 dispatch *could* route calls, there is a significant portion of our community that feel that 911 is an unsafe option for them). We are committed to making sure that we are actually creating research-backed, community-driven, care-based safety in our community. This is the only type of plan we can support.
The city has cited a commitment to funding an unarmed response program (though they have not committed to an explicitly non-police response at this time). Our people-powered movement has made unarmed response a key funding priority for American Rescue Plan Act Funds in the city of Ann Arbor, as evidenced by the $3.5 million allocation for an unarmed response program.
The next steps for the city are to develop a community engagement process, followed by a final request for proposal process for an actual program (not yet selected) to implement an unarmed response using the ARPA funds. We do not know to whom the city will give these funds, or what stipulations will come with such a program. We are advocating for resident participation–particularly among those most impacted by the harms of policing–to shape these developments every step of the way.
CROS is committed to developing and implementing an unarmed, non-police response program in Washtenaw County regardless of the funding source. We are committed to our values and community over any kind of money we may receive, and will only apply for city funds if the city’s request for proposals is values-aligned and truly research-based.
To this end, our group is moving into two separate and distinct branches, under the CROS banner. The first group, which is our broad coalition of community members, will continue to engage the city of Ann Arbor–and other Washtenaw County jurisdictions–towards supporting an unarmed, non-police response program that is values-aligned and research based. The second group is focusing on the logistical work of setting up a program that will implement a community-driven, unarmed, non-police response in our county.
We know that there is a future in our community where we have the structures, resources, and people-capacity to build a successful care-based safety program, and where everyone can have what they need to thrive. The Coalition for Re-Envisioning Our Safety will be part of building this future.