Op-Ed: Commit to Re-imagining Community Safety

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Clifton West Jr. Co-Founder & Executive Director of Black Lives Matter Seacoast


On May 25, 2020, we all witnessed the murder of George Floyd. One day after the anniversary of George Floyd’s death, and I’m wondering, do marginalized communities feel safer here in NH? The answer is NO. 

The past year not only revealed the undercurrent of white supremacy in NH, but also exposed how our municipalities have historically underserved individuals who struggle with substance use, mental health, and homelessness. Local organizations providing relief have picked up the slack but are often too underfunded to make the difference needed. Police departments, however, are given a significant amount of funding from municipalities to mediate issues most affecting our community, despite not having the expertise to do so. 

Police departments in the Seacoast have stated they are not the best people to handle these situations, yet they’re the ones who respond. Some have expressed that they’re having a hard time filling vacancies, leaving them to commit officers to follow up calls for overdoses and mental health instead of their typical duties. 

Municipalities should be conducting studies and facilitating the creation of mobile 24/7 emergency response crisis intervention teams to handle all situations where people need support and resources. Rochester and Dover, right now, could administer over 8 mental health specialists & recovery coaches in place of their vacant officers to handle wellness checks, follow ups and improve support to those struggling with drug use and mental health.

This would be an active step in the right direction, keeping our community members safer and reducing the strain on understaffed police departments at the same time. I call on the leaders of our municipalities to make this commitment and implement bold decisions for the future of our communities.

Thank you, Clifton West

Clifton West Jr. Co-Founder & Executive Director of Black Lives Matter SeacoastPronouns: he/himFacebook: BLM SeacoastInstagram: @blmseacoasthttps://www.blmseacoast.comclifton.west@blmseacoast.com 910-584-6869

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