Last week on Thurs, Jan 11, dozens of you called in and showed up to Ann Arbor City Council to demand that the city keep its promise to implement an unarmed response program that is independent from police and built and led by community. Hundreds more of you emailed and called your council members to demand the same. The City of Ann Arbor has already heard our community’s outrage and disappointment about the cancellation and in response unanimously passed a resolution reaffirming their Commitment to Establish an Unarmed Crisis Response Program in the City of Ann Arbor. This is a positive step because it means that they are hearing our voices and our efforts are being noticed. That said, we need to make sure that their commitment to implementing an unarmed response program is a commitment to implementing the type of program that includes the values we have been advocating for over the past 2.5 years. These values include a program that is independent from police, rooted in care-based practices, and designed and run for and by the community.
Here’s an example email that you can send or use for public comments at the upcoming City Council meeting on Monday, January 22:Dear Council Members and Mayor Taylor, I am writing to you as a concerned member of the Ann Arbor community, with a focus on enhancing our city's approach to safety and care. First and foremost, I would like to express my gratitude for your ongoing support of unarmed response initiatives in our community. The concept of a Care-Based Safety model for unarmed response has been a topic of significant interest and discussion within our community. This model, developed with input from Ann Arbor residents, promises an innovative approach, moving away from traditional paradigms towards a more community-centered and care-focused solution. So it is a big disappointment to me that the City has canceled the original RFP for unarmed response in Ann Arbor, especially when a community-driven, care-based respondent was formed and created to provide this essential service to Ann Arbor – the only respondent to the RFP – Care Based Safety. While I understand that the RFP for this initiative has been canceled, I believe it is crucial for the community to have a clear understanding of the city's vision and plans for the future of unarmed response services. In this regard, I would like to emphasize the importance of transparency and engagement in the decision-making process. I urge City Council to consider the following requests as we move forward:
Transparency and Engagement: It is essential for the Council to direct staff to commit to an open, clear, and transparent process as we enter another RFP period. Staff have publicly communicated that the reason for the recent RFP cancellation was due to a change in scope, yet they have not specified what these changes entail. Understanding the reasons behind the cancellation of the original RFP and how this decision aligns with the city's broader goals for community safety, as well as Mayor Taylor’s resolution for unarmed response, would be helpful. We hope the City will commit to an open dialogue between the Council, City staff, service providers, and the public to improve mutual respect and trust.
Informed Decision Making: I encourage the Council to direct staff to provide more timely updates once the new RFP has been issued. Missing a stated deadline by three months without any meaningful communication does not engender trust and mutual respect within the community.
Timeliness and Responsiveness: Recognizing the time-sensitive nature of the funding available for such initiatives, I request that the Council direct staff to act with urgency in the development of a new RFP, as $3.5 million in ARPA funds are at stake.
The Care-Based Safety model represents a significant step towards a more compassionate and effective approach to community safety. I believe that with thoughtful consideration and collaborative effort, we can establish a system that truly reflects the values and needs of Ann Arbor. Thank you for your attention to this matter and for your dedication to our community's well-being.