LETTER: Freeholders need to do their jobs and reject additional law enforcement spending

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In a letter to the editor, Hudson County Progressive Alliance member Patrick Toussaint explains why he feels that the board of chosen freeholders need to do their jobs and reject additional law enforcement spending on today’s agenda.

Dear Editor,

A public budget reflects the choices we make as a community about who we are and what we want to be. This week, the Hudson County Board of Freeholders may choose to be the type of community that supports tear gassing its residents.

On Thursday, freeholders are voting on $2 million of additional spending on law enforcement related items:

• $1.7 million to install WIFI at the county jail (Item 20a)
• $219,000 for new vehicles for the sheriff (Item 15g)
• $34,000 for unmanned aerial vehicles for the sheriff (Item 19a)
• $34,000 for tear gas for our regional SWAT team (Item 16a)

If that last item looks familiar, it’s because it’s already been rejected twice before, including during a special midday freeholder meeting, meant to escape public attention. And yet, the freeholders are trying yet again to get this past the public.

The Hudson County Progressive Alliance has analyzed the county budget over the last 4 years. At $213 million (including benefits and pension), law enforcement is 30% of the Hudson County budget, the largest component.

The Sheriff’s budget has increased 15% since 2017. County jail spending is almost
$200,000 per inmate, an increase of 130% since 2017 (by comparison, per student spending at Hudson County Schools of Technology is $23,000).

When we are already spending $213 million to surveil, arrest, and jail our neighbors, do we really need to spend $2 million more?

When we are struggling with high unemployment, or having to shutter family businesses, or figuring out how to safely take care of and educate our children, is this the type of community we want to be?

If you want to let the freeholders know what type of community we really are, you can join the next freeholder meeting at 6pm this evening at: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/91553925879.

Patrick Toussaint
Hudson County Progressive Alliance

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