10 to Transform
in collaboration with Durham Beyond Policing
We believe that everyone deserves to experience safety, care, and belonging. We’re fighting for a Durham where every community has access to resources that help them feel safe, supported, and cared for—everyday, and especially in times of crisis.
The 10 to Transform campaign is organizing to divest from policing and invest in care for our communities. Our communities want to see their values and priorities reflected in the decisions that our elected and appointed officials make. That’s why Durham Beyond Policing and Durham For All are putting these demands forward:
ON THE CITY LEVEL :
Currently, armed police officers respond to 911 calls in every situation. But so many of us carry the trauma of our communities being harmed by the police when we ask for help. Not everyone is safe in the presence of police. Calling 911 is not an option for all of us. Too often, we have to manage crises and respond to harm on our own.
This June, the City of Durham has an opportunity to transfer 10% of police officer positions in the Durham Police Department (DPD) into a new Department of Community Safety. Right now, there are roughly 60 vacancies in officer positions—over 10% of total officer positions. We are calling on the City Council to transfer those vacant positions to a new Department of Community Safety and hire unarmed professionals to respond to some of our 911 calls: social workers, mental health professionals, people who are trained in de-escalating conflict, people who will provide care when we most need it.
ON THE COUNTY LEVEL:
When it comes to mental health crisis, Durham residents need ways to access compassionate care and skilled mental health support around the clock.
This year we are urging the Durham Board of County Commissioners to reallocate a portion of last year’s County spending on policing and jails to mental health and wellbeing. In the past fiscal year, the County allocated $37,380,582 to the Sheriff’s department and $6,336,751 to Mental Health. Our 10 to Transform goal is to see the 2021-22 budget reflect 10% of County money budgeted within policing and jails reallocated to strengthen the care work in Mental Health.
Durham Board of County Commissioners voted on the 2021-2021 budget on June 14th. Durham City Council voted on January 21st. Here’s what we won:
The City Council reallocated 5 positions from Durham Policing Department to the Department of Community Safety and Wellness (DCSW) and froze 15 more in DPD, with an affirmative vote needed in January to reallocate them to DCSW.
The Board of County Commissioners unanimously agreed to a million dollar investment in mental health services and an expansion of the Bull City United peer-to-peer violence interrupters outreach program. We raised critical questions, finally bringing the Sheriff into a transparent conversation about his budget that he has avoided for so long.
Statement on the City Council Budget Vote
June 22nd, 2021
Friends and members,
Last night, Durham City Council voted on the 2021-2022 budget. Durham For All, Durham Beyond Policing, and our memberships have worked tirelessly to achieve a budget that builds towards a Durham with true safety for everyone. We’re proud of our collective work and our wins.
Through the 10 to Transform campaign, we won a commitment from a majority on the City Council to reallocate 60 police vacancies over the next three years to the Department of Community Safety and Wellness (DCSW). In this year’s budget, the City Council reallocated 5 positions from Durham Policing Department to the Department of Community Safety and Wellness (DCSW) and froze 15 more in DPD, with an affirmative vote needed in January to reallocate them to DCSW.
Thank you and congratulations to everyone who joined the campaign. To the 80+ volunteers who held over 700 conversations about safety and policing with people of color and Black communities in Durham: It’s because of your hard work that we’ve been able to uplift the stories of Black and POC communities in Durham, over 70% of whom supported our demand to divest from policing and invest in mental health and compassionate crisis response. To the 1,036 people who signed onto our letter to the City Council, thank you! You gave us the power to go into meetings with councilmembers knowing we are uplifting what Durham residents need and deserve. To those who spoke up at public hearings, submitted written public comments, or showed up for our public events, thank you! Your contribution showed our collective strength and named our shared vision.
Though this victory is not as immediate as we hoped it would be, it has significant impacts on our everyday lives in Durham. When the Department of Community Safety and Wellness is up and running, we will have unarmed, skilled, first responders who will respond to our calls for help with care and not force. A hiring freeze on 15 police officer positions means decreased encounters with armed law enforcement for young Black, brown, queer, disabled, poor and/or immigrant people in Durham. Reallocation of five officer positions to the Department of Community Safety and Wellness means that if we or our loved ones experience a mental health crisis, we are more likely to receive the support we need in the moment. And more broadly, as our City tries different ways of responding to crises than the limited options that policing offers, we can ground ourselves in hope that’s sustained by action—reimagining safety in our city is possible.
Durham For All and Durham Beyond Policing have been in deep conversations with thousands of Black and POC residents of Durham, over the phone or at their doors, on the streets or at the bus station, for years. The 10 to Transform campaign grew out of these conversations with Durham residents, particularly Black and POC communities, who want to create community safety beyond armed policing and beyond fear. It is because of these conversations that we’re able to hold the complexities of our communities and recognize that policing and safety are complicated issues. We know that Black people—in Durham and throughout the world—are not a monolith and hold differing perspectives on this issue.
We have heard loud and clear that fear of rising gun violence in Durham is preventing some of us, in the community and on the City Council, from feeling enthusiastic towards building alternatives to policing. We, too, mourn devastating deaths due to gun violence in our communities. We take this grief seriously and rely on existing research and evidence to address the root causes of violence—communities not having their basic needs met. The myth that the uptick in crime or gun violence can be addressed by increased policing runs counter to the evidence. Research shows that adding more police will not reduce gun violence, will not stop our people from dying in the streets, and is not the solution for creating the safety and care we all need and deserve.
Our concern for the rise of gun violence in Durham is one of the many reasons why we uplift and appreciate the investments that the City Council is making this year, as a result of years of community organizing, in affordable housing, green and equitable infrastructure, language justice, and more. These are all resources that, based on existing research, help stop gun violence. 
We will continue to listen to and invite in poor and working class, Black and POC communities of Durham, honoring all the nuances and complexities that our communities hold. In January, we will follow through to ensure the 15 frozen positions will be reallocated to the Department of Community Safety and Wellness. In the meantime, we will support the Community Safety and Wellness Taskforce and look to the data coming from the city pilot programs to help shape what those positions will look like in the Department of Community Safety and Wellness.
As we approach the local elections in Durham, we will ground our voter education processes in the needs and demands of Black, people of color, immigrant, indigenous, poor and working people that we’ve been in conversation with, including, but not limited to, the demands of the 10 to Transform campaign. Candidates’ position on divesting from policing and investing in community needs will let us know how well they align with community visions of a Durham that’s safer for all of us.
Durham For All and Durham Beyond Policing are invested in and committed to building a multiracial, cross-class movement that centers the leadership of people of color and working people; fights for our collective liberation; and creates safety, care, and belonging for all of us. We draw on a lineage of multiracial alliances in Durham that teaches us if we ground our efforts in the needs and interests of those deeply impacted by intersections of oppression, it is possible to come together and build a future in which everyone has access to resources we need to thrive.
Until we all get free,
Kaji, Ociele, Shanise, Anthony, and Nahid on behalf of Durham For All
AJ, Danielle, and Manju on behalf of Durham Beyond Policing coalition
1. Laura Cooper, executive director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, which represents police executives in the U.S. and Canada and compiles data across member cities, shared with The Daily Beast that their data shows violent crime increased in the first quarter of 2021, regardless of whether cities increased or decreased their police budgets.
2. As put forth by crime experts at the University of Chicago and New York University, community institutions and care workers, such as public schools, libraries, recreation centers, social workers and therapists, are all associated with deterring criminalized behavior.
Second Letter to the City Council
after the 10 to Transform Town Hall
On May 20th, Durham Beyond Policing and Durham For All hosted our 10 to Transform Town Hall, where we called in City and and County elected officials to pass budgets that prioritize care over policing. Four city council members expressed enthusiasm for reallocating 60 vacant police officer positions over three years into unarmed positions in the new Department of Community Safety.
On May 25th, we sent a letter to the City Council as they head into budget work sessions (May 26th and 27th) to ask them to follow through!
Here’s the letter we sent:
Dear City Councilmembers,
Durham For All, Durham Beyond Policing, our member leaders, and our supporters feel an incredible sense of gratitude for your participation in our 10 to Transform Town Hall last week. Your willingness to show up in a public forum and offer your position on our demand to reallocate 60 vacant police officer positions from the Durham Police Department (DPD) into a new Department of Community Safety & Wellness feels inspiring and is the type of accountability to, and co-governance with Durham residents we expect to see from all of our elected officials.
We heard your strong commitment to make investments in the city’s new Department of Community Safety & Wellness and reduce the number of policing positions over the next 3 years, and we are confident that this plan can become a reality with your continued support and advocacy. Your unwavering dedication to work with Durham Beyond Policing in establishing the Community-Led Safety & Wellness Task Force fortified our trust in this elected body. Your dedication also gave us momentum to continue to fight for more unarmed and compassionate first responders to incidents that do not require the presence of armed officers, including mental health crises, traffic enforcement, quality of life 911 calls, to name a few.
Our community outreach shows that you have community support to move the needle on this issue. On March 30th, we sent you a letter outlining our 10 to Transform demand. Since then, 876 Durham residents have signed the letter in support of our demand to transfer 60 vacant police officer positions from the Durham Police Department (DPD) into a new Department of Community Safety & Wellness. For years, we have been going door to door and picking up the phone to have honest conversations with Durham residents about safety, policing, and care. This year, we’ve had 485 conversations with people of color between ages of 17-45, and over 80% of the people we’ve talked to support an investment in care instead of policing. You have a unique opportunity to redefine public safety in Durham and to collaborate to figure out more creative ways to address harm in the city that we all call home.
We’d like to reflect back to you what you shared during our Town Hall and leading up to the event:
Jillian Johnson: “I’m fully in support of this ask. I think moving 60 positions from the police department to the Community Safety department is a great start. I think we’ll actually need much more than that for this work to really be successful long term…I’m hopeful that the majority of the council will agree to a plan that moves 60 positions from police over to the Community Safety department over the next three years, starting with 20 this fiscal year.”
Charlie Reece: “I just want to say that the Mayor Pro Tem’s plan is a fantastic plan, I think we’ve got to move every piece of logistical, technical, bureaucratic stuff out of the way to get there…I commit along with my colleagues to do everything that it takes to get it done.”
Javiera Caballero: “… I just want to lift up Jillian Johnson’s plan. It’s something that I can fully get on board with…Right now we’re in a really early phase of learning and exploring. It’s a brand new department.”
Pierce Freelon: “Yes. So thrilled to say yes. Feel my glee and enthusiasm for this plan… Thank you for the work you’ve done. I feel so proud and privileged to be in this position to use my vote on our collective behalf and transform and shape the future. So that’s my enthusiastic yes.”
DeDreana Freeman: “I’m definitely not able to say yes tonight. But I think the conversation around the pilot and 20 or so additional folks in the standing up of the Community Safety Taskforce sounds great. I really wanna see what is on the ground and what’s working before I commit anything like that.”
Before the Town Hall, Mayor Steve Schewel expressed that he is open to hearing from his colleagues and the public, and at the time he is considering reallocating four police officers.
Councilmember Mark Anthony Middleton was unable to be present for the 10 to Transform Town Hall.
If we misunderstood your stated commitment, or if you move closer to being ready to reallocate 60 vacant police officer positions from the Durham Police Department (DPD) into a new Department of Community Safety & Wellness, please be in touch.
Over the next few weeks, as the budget process shifts into work session discussions and finally towards being approved, we encourage you to continue to advocate with each other for 60 vacant officer positions to be reallocated into unarmed first responder positions in the new Department of Community Safety & Wellness. It feels imperative that we have Councilmembers who are fully on-board to champion our demand towards community investments. We all deserve Durham to be a city where every community has access to resources that help them feel safe, supported, and cared for—every day, and especially in times of crisis.
Thank you for your tenacity and eagerness to build lasting change in our city.
Shanise Hamilton, Durham For All Community Organizer
Manju Rajendran, Durham Beyond Policing interim director
On behalf of Durham For All and Durham Beyond Policing members and staff
On Thursday May 20th, Durham Beyond Policing and Durham For All hosted a virtual Town Hall with city and county elected officials:
Click here to watch a recording of the Town Hall, where we gathered in community to dream big about alternatives to policing, presented our campaign demands to City Councilmembers and County Commissioners before their public budget hearings & vote, and asked for their commitments to our demands.
Durham Beyond Policing and Durham For All are collaborating on the 10 to Transform campaign to move money away from police and sheriff’s departments and invest in what our communities really need to thrive: unarmed, skilled, and compassionate crisis response; and robust mental healthcare.
Every week on Mondays and Tuesdays, we phonebank Durham community members of color to ask about what true safety looks like and discuss what our communities need. We listen to community members’ stories and experiences, share our stories, and invite folks to join the 10 to Transform campaign.
Here’s how we do it: We all get on a zoom call to be in community, celebrate each other when we have great conversations, and offer support if a challenge comes up.
If this is your first time, you’ll join us at 5:00pm for a training on holding deep canvassing conversations over the phones. We’ll go over the script, do a role play, and answer any questions you might have. If you have already phone banked with us this year, you’ll hop on at 6:00pm to start making calls.
Helen, who has been phonebanking with D4A for a year now, describes the experience:
“It feels so important and nice to be able to connect with my fellow community members in Durham and hear their experiences with community safety. People are often very engaged and open in communication and I have learned so much already and feel a lot of people adding to the momentum of 10 to Transform!”
Letter to The Board of County Commissioners
On April 30th, Durham Beyond Policing and Durham For All sent a letter to the Durham Board of County Commissioners, outlining our demand to reallocate a portion of last year’s County spending on policing and jails to mental health and wellbeing. In the past fiscal year, the County allocated $37,380,582 to the Sheriff’s department and $6,336,751 to Mental Health.
Our 10 to Transform goal is to see the 2021-22 budget reflect 10% of County money budgeted within policing and jails reallocated to strengthen the care work in mental health. Read the full text of our letter here.
Letter to The City Council
On March 30th, Durham For All sent a letter to the Durham City Council, outlining our demand to transfer the 60 vacant positions at the Durham Police Department to the new Department of Community Safety and hire unarmed professionals to respond to some of our 911 calls: social workers, mental health professionals, people who are trained in de-escalating conflict, people who will provide care when we most need it. Read the full text of our letter below.
Since then, other progressive organizations and over 1,000 Durham residents have signed on to the letter.
Read the full text of our letter to Durham City Council members here:
Dear Durham City Council Members:
On behalf of Durham For All (D4A) members and leaders, we are writing to share with you what we see as a unique opportunity for Durham to live up to our values of care, justice, and safety.
We write this letter with the knowledge that we have a common goal: We are all working towards a Durham where every resident —no matter our race, class, gender, sexual orientation, ability, immigration status, or religion— feels safe, supported, and cared for, especially in times of crisis. We also know that with the current 911 system, too many people don’t seek help when they need it most because armed officers, whose presence does not bring safety to many of us, often respond to 911 calls.
One of our members clearly described the complications of calling 911, especially for Black people, in the following experience of a car accident: “I didn’t feel protected or served. One thing that always sticks out to me is how I had to be scared about the police showing up on edge, ready to shoot, and being a threat to my life. I had to manage that potential crisis while also managing the physical, mental and emotional trauma of a car accident.” No one should have to experience this fear when they call for help.
For these times of crisis and stress, we need unarmed responders, mental health professionals, social workers, and conflict resolution professionals who are trained to provide care and support. As you make decisions on the coming budget, we urge you to invest in hiring professionals for a new Department of Community Safety, as unarmed responders to 911 calls involving mental health crises, quality of life issues, and traffic incidents.
We know the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the city budget and the Durham community as a whole, limiting funding for new hires. Currently, there are 60 vacant police officer positions in the Durham Police Department (DPD), which is 10% of DPD police officer positions. We urge you to relocate those vacancies to a new Department of Community Safety and hire unarmed responders that can provide community members with the safety, wellness and care we need in times of crisis. This solution, without putting added strain on the city budget, responds to the demands of the powerful movement across our country, inspired and led by the Movement for Black Lives, to develop community-based alternatives to policing.
Last summer, in the midst of our nation’s largest uprisings since the Civil Rights Movement, Durham For All held thousands of conversations with voters of color and working class voters in Durham about the pressing needs of our communities. While people have different experiences with and perspectives on police and public safety, over and over, we heard a common theme: there’s something fundamentally broken about our criminal justice system. We invited community members to join Durham For All members and movement allies to discuss policy solutions through our People’s Platform. In what became our Justice for All platform, there was a resounding consensus on investing in alternatives to policing.
When we call 911, we’re not always reporting a crime or asking for armed officers. In fact, recent analysis performed by RTI International shows that 87 percent of 911 calls are resolved without an arrest. Common calls for service, such as mental health (crisis, involuntary commitment), quality of life (trespassing, loitering, and noise complaints, etc.), traffic (motor vehicle accidents, traffic hazards) and general assistance calls do not require the presence of armed officers. In the case of mental health calls, officers are not equipped with the skills and training necessary to provide community members with the care they need, a fact DPD officers acknowledged in RTI focus groups. Unarmed, skilled, and professional responders can be dispatched for these calls and provide what community members need to feel supported, cared for, and safe.
Across the country, communities are recognizing this need and developing initiatives that provide care and support without criminalizing people in moments of crisis. From the longstanding CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Streets) program in Eugene, Oregon to new programs that have been popping up around the country since last year’s uprisings, municipalities are investing in models that reduce community members’ interactions with the police and the criminal justice system. The Los Angeles City Council has unanimously approved legislation to hire community-based responders to address nonviolent calls. In Berkeley, California, the city council proposed a new Department of Transportation that will make non-police roles responsible for traffic enforcement.
This year, Durham has a chance to join the growing list of cities that prioritize care and address the root causes of safety or crime, without eliminating jobs or cutting anyone’s salary. We cannot afford to miss this unique opportunity by continuing to pursue punitive methods that have harmed our communities and failed to respond to our needs for so long.
We know that you are in a difficult position when it comes to public safety and policing, with many pushes and pulls from your different constituents. We also believe that navigating these complexities is the work of liberation. We struggle together towards a deeper understanding of each other’s needs: what does a future look like in which we are all safe? We invite you to reimagine safety and care beyond the limited framework that defines it only as the absence of crime: Relocate the currently vacant 10% of DPD police officer positions to the Department of Community Safety and invest in unarmed roles for responding to 911 calls.
Here at Durham For All, we are committed to having difficult and honest conversations with Durham residents about safety and policing through weekly phone banks and online forums. In this work, we have learned that Durham residents are ready to think beyond our reliance on policing. And we expect you, our council members, to join us in this struggle: to take bold steps and explore alternatives to the systems that we know, based on research and experience, do not provide safety and care. We will reach out to schedule meetings with each of you to discuss this issue and the concerns you might have.
Thank you for everything you do for our city,
Shanise Hamilton, D4A Community Organizer
Jordan Thomas, D4A Member Leader
On behalf of Durham For All member leaders and staff
1. Durham Police Group Seeks Raises for All City Workers Amid COVID-19 Pandemic, WNCT, 10 Feb 2021
3. LA City Council approves plan to revamp LAPD with unarmed crisis response team, ABC, 15 Oct 2020
4. Berkeley proposal calls for eliminating police from traffic and parking enforcement, San Francisco Chronicle, 29 June 2020
Organizations and coalitions who have signed on to the letter so far:
Durham Beyond Policing
Demilitarize! Durham to Palestine
Democratic Socialists of America, Durham Branch
Democratic Socialists of America, Triangle Chapter
Duke Faculty Union
Durham Area Sunrise Movement
Durham Association of Educators
Durham People’s Alliance
North Durham Alternatives to Policing
Triangle Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ)
If you work with a local organization in Durham and are interested in signing on to the letter, email us at [email protected].
Campaign Kickoff Recording
On Tuesday April 27th, Durham Beyond Policing and Durham For All hosted a virtual event to kick off the 10 to Transform campaign.
Some highlights from the event: Durham Beyond Policing held a comprehensive and accessible participatory session about the county budget, Durham For All member leaders gave us an awesome preview of phonebanking conversations, and we took action together!
86 people signed on to our letter to the city council and 25 people signed up for 62 phonebanking shifts. We had a great kickoff to our 10 to Transform campaign!
Watch the full video of the event below: