What if I told you that defunding the police could actually make us safer? Following George Floyd’s recent unjust death, the media has brought attention to several other victims of police brutality. The ongoing, acts of violence from select police officers across the country has initiated a movement, and popular slogan known as defunding the police. It has become a controversial phrase that has raised some urgent and pressing questions of how police officers are trained, the validity of the hiring process, and most importantly, how police departments are funded.
While defunding the police has become a major part of our social dialogue as it relates to police reform and police brutality, it has also understandably evolved into a fiery political debate. Many people have been influenced to believe that defunding the police would abolish the force altogether. The most common misconception is that the push to defund the police means to completely abolish police departments across the country. Many also believe that defunding the police means lowering the budgets of state and local police so that it is no longer financially feasible for them to adequately protect their community leading to higher crimes rates. It’s all wrong. Defunding the police refers to institutional police reform which allows funding to be reallocated from police departments that are overfunded and to institutions, resources, and services that aid communities in growth; particularly those that are over-policed.
U.S cities collectively spend more than 100 billion dollars a year on policing while lacking the fiscal responsibility to be able to invest in our educational system, health care, mental health services, and housing. Since 1960, the government has transferred 6 billion dollars’ worth of military equipment to local law enforcement agencies. Police don’t need grenade launchers, assault rifles and tanks while state and local governments are struggling to provide students with textbooks and the basic technology needed to be able to successfully transition through school. In most cases, police don’t prevent crime they show up after crimes are already committed. Defunding the police involves being honest with ourselves and each other by taking a serious look at the money that is being arbitrarily poured into police departments across this country and investing in services that help prevent the behaviors and circumstances that lead to crime.
Most people depend on police to keep them safe and there is no question that policing remains as an important part of keeping the public safe. However, affordable housing, mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment, education and job training are also important parts of our public safety that will deter crime rates to much lower levels so that policing can be adequately enforced across our country so that the people don’t feel like they are at war with the very same people who took an oath to protect and serve.
Written By: Guy Fronstin, Esq. and Sumayyah Muhammad