Letter: Why do we value fancy surveillance toys over citizens?

Graphic by Lori Deaton

The Asheville Police Department is thrilled to announce the arrival of their cutting-edge mobile command unit vehicle. They posted pictures of it with a beautiful fall mountain background. Yet they failed to inform the community how many hundreds of thousands of our tax dollars they spent on this luxury vehicle.

Every year, the APD demands a larger budget. This year, the city passed a $240 million budget, while our schools’ budgets aren’t sufficient to buy basic supplies and pay employees living wages; our libraries are only open five days a week and their hours continue to decrease; and we can’t seem to afford to help people who are most in need. In fact, the police harass and give them citations.

The APD claims they need more money every year to pay officers (they always focus on the small salaries of their officers), yet it looks like their budget is plenty big enough. They keep bragging publicly about their new fancy toys; this cutting-edge surveillance vehicle, drones, a cute publicity dog and a cop car that features the color pink. The city could have spent that money on things that actually save and improve people’s lives.

— Liat Silverman


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