NOTES:

In calls to contact offices regarding police violence, most recently due to the murder of Botham Jean in Dallas, it was brought to my attention that template letters would be useful. These are starting points, and need personalization. I want to note that I am a white cisgender woman, so these letters are necessarily written through that lens. Please contact me with any questions, concerns, corrections, and/or suggestions. I used this article (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/josh-schrei/fifty-questions-to-ask-yo_b_10871028.html) as a starting point in writing my letters and some questions are used directly. Some overall instructions are below:

1. Put your name and address on BOTH the letter itself and the envelope if you’re mailing.

2. Ask for a reply. The templates here do, but if you are writing on your own, be sure to include this.

3. Keep letters to one page. The goal is to have them counted and read, which is unlikely if they are longer.

4. Be clear on the actions you want taken. The letters are general and not situation specific. Again, make them personal to you.

5. MOST IMPORTANT: Google your recipient. It is never okay for a white person to send an angry letter to a Person of Color. Make sure you know who you're speaking to so that you do not cause harm.


Letter to Police Chief in your own town:

Sample letter to the police chief in your own community to inquire about what actions are being taken to ensure the safety of Black folks in your area.

Hello Chief (Insert Name),

I hope this finds you well. (Write who you are here. How long have you lived in the area? If you are a veteran, or have held a public position, include that here. Google your Police Chief to see what positions they hold on community interaction.) My example: I am a resident and home owner in ____ for the last four years. I was pleased to read your online bio and learn that you are passionate about police/civilian partnership and engagement. I am writing because I am concerned for the safety of our community’s Black residents and for all people of color who are disproportionate targets of police violence across the country. I am sure that by now you have heard about the death of Botham Jean, in his own home, by an off-duty officer utilizing her service weapon, which is the tragic latest in a long line of violent deaths. I am writing to inquire as to the protocols you have in place to ensure that this type of egregious police violence does not occur here, in ____.  

Specifically, I would like to know the following:

What type of race sensitivity training do your officers have to undergo? Is this mandatory for all officers? Are officers provided ongoing and up-to-date statistics on police violence vs. minorities? Do your senior officers truly believe race sensitivity training is necessary and do they reflect this attitude to the rest of the department? What do you do with officers who crack jokes or exhibit signs of irreverence during race sensitivity training? Are they disciplined?

What percentage of your officers on patrol are actually from the neighborhoods they patrol? How many Black officers are there on your force? What attempts are there to ensure that patrol cars have at least one person of color when patrolling neighborhoods that are predominantly inhabited by people of color?

Are patrol officers taught to look for signs of stress and agitation exhibited by their peers/partners, so that they could potentially de-escalate a situation involving a stressed-out or trigger-prone officer? What is the protocol when one officer is concerned over another officer’s behavior?

Many officers involved in shooting of minorities have claimed that they felt “threatened.” How are you taking steps to train officers in what is actually a threat and what isn’t? What are your department’s protocols in terms of what constitutes justified use of force? Are officers that are prone to drawing and discharging their weapons investigated? Are there consequences to such actions?

Does your department have an ongoing dialogue with the Black community on these issues? Have you met with community organizers or representatives of Black Lives Matter to confront these issues candidly and directly? If not, will you commit to ongoing dialogue?

Thank you for your time. If these questions seem very specific, they are intended to be. I believe we share a hope and determination that _____ be a safe home for all of its residents. I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

(Your Name)


letter to mayor of your town

Use this template letter to contact your Mayor in your own community to inquire about what actions are being taken to ensure the safety of Black folks in your area.

Hello Mayor (Insert Name),

I hope this finds you well. (Write who you are here. How long have you lived in the area? If you are a veteran, or have held a public or community position, include that here. If you worked on the Mayoral campaign, put that here. If you represent an organization or business, put that here. Google your Mayor to see what positions they hold on community interaction.) My example: I am a resident and home owner in ____ and I am writing because I am concerned for the safety of our community’s Black residents and for all people of color who are disproportionate targets of police violence across the country.  I am sure that by now you have heard about the death of Botham Jean, in his own home, by an off-duty officer utilizing her service weapon, which is the tragic latest in a long line of violent deaths. I am writing to examine what programs you and your staff have in place to ensure that People of Color in our community are safe, heard, and supported.

Specifically, I would like to know the following:

Does your office have an ongoing dialogue with the Black community on issues of racism, discrimination, police violence, etc? Have you met with community organizers or representatives of Black Lives Matter to confront these issues candidly and directly? If not will you commit to ongoing dialogue?

What type of race sensitivity training does your staff undergo? Is this mandatory for all staff? Do your senior members of staff truly believe race sensitivity training is necessary and do they reflect this attitude to the rest of their coworkers?

Are you engaged in active dialogue with law enforcement in Coral Springs to ensure that cohesive and consistent policy is being practiced? If not, will you commit to ongoing dialogue?

Thank you for your time. If these questions seem very specific, they are intended to be. I believe we share a hope and determination that ____ can be a safe home where all residents can thrive. I expect, as I'm sure you do, that our representatives be instruments of peace in the community. I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

(Your Name)

DA Letter- re: botham jean

This is the letter I sent regarding Botham Jean to the Dallas DA's office. In this case, I was using an online submission system and wanted to keep the letter short. It is deliberately kept vague on details as the DA in this case is a Black woman, and it would be inappropriate for me to throw triggering material at her. The purpose here was simply to express support for a murder charge.

Dear Madame District Attorney,

I hope this finds you well. I am writing to express my concern and outrage in the aftermath of the murder of Botham Jean. I understand that, as of this writing, that the officer in question is not in custody, pending an investigation by the Texas Rangers.

I would like to respectfully express my full support for a murder charge in this case. Black citizens of and visitors to Dallas deserve, to feel safe in their homes and in the city at large. As you are no doubt aware, these crimes often go unpunished, and the message this sends is that a White officer's freedom is more valuable than a Black resident's life. Given your office's continued commitment to truth and the law, I am confident that justice will be served. A response, so that I may know that my letter has been received, would be appreciated. Thank you for your time.

Respectfully,

(Your Name)

police chief Letter- re: botham jean

This is the letter I sent regarding Botham Jean to the Dallas Police Chief's office. It is deliberately kept vague on details as the Police Chief in this case is a Black woman, and it would be inappropriate for me to throw triggering material at her. The purpose here was simply to express support justice to be served.

 Dear Chief Hall,

I hope this finds you well. I am writing to express my concern in the aftermath of the murder of Botham Jean. While I was glad to see your office’s swift action for justice in issuing a warrant for the officer in question, I was appalled to learn that, as of this writing, the officer in question is not in custody, pending an independent investigation. Reports that Jean's apartment was searched, make it appear that the goal of this investigation for the Rangers has become slander of an innocent man's character, rather than prosecution of the murder committed.

I would like to respectfully express my full support for your office as you ensure that justice is served in this case and that Mr. Jean’s murderer is taken off the streets and never again given the power and authority she so violently abused as an officer of the law. Given your office's continued commitment to public safety within your community, I am confident that justice will be served. A response, so that I may know that my letter has been received, would be appreciated. Thank you for your time.

Respectfully, 

(Your Name)

Letter to the office of the mayor- re: botham jean 

Dear Mayor Rawlings,

 I hope this finds you well. I am writing from _____, to express my concern in the aftermath of the murder of Botham Jean, in his own home, by a police officer. I understand that the officer in question is not in custody, pending an investigation by the Texas Rangers. This is appalling, and I cannot imagine that anyone in the Dallas area is feeling safe at this time. Reports that Jean's apartment was searched, make it appear that the goal of this investigation for the Rangers has become slander of an innocent man's character, rather than prosecution of the murder committed.

You have been vocal about this case and have stood in support of Jean’s family and of Police Chief Renee Hall and other Black elected officials. In a recent speech you spoke about the “insidious habit by some of being overly critical of black individuals with notoriety”. This “insidious habit”, racism, is deadly and goes far beyond criticism. This was the act of a White woman who felt entitled to her fear of a Black man and was threatened by his very presence. We cannot stop systemic oppression without acknowledging it. We must call a thing a thing. Further, I was discouraged to hear how much value was placed on Mr. Jean’s accomplishments and religion, though he was undoubtably a very accomplished man. He sounds like an exemplary person, an asset to his family and community. But every, single person, regardless of their profession, demeanor, or other personal traits deserves to feel safe, especially in their own home. I hope I am not wrong in assuming that that the safety of Dallas and all of its resident’s is a top priority for you.

 I am writing to demand swift and diligent justice in this case, and to ask what specifically is being done to protect People of Color from similar violence in your area going forward. I'm sure you agree that it is of the utmost importance that People of Color in the Dallas area are protected and able to live their lives without constant fear. I look forward to your reply and hearing your action plans for the future, and want to remind you that people across the country will be paying attention.

Respectfully,

(Your Name)