Saturday, June 13, 2020

Defund The Police?

With the death of George Floyd still fresh in the country's psyche, a call has gone out to "Defund The Police."  Some look at that phrase as a way to reallocate funding municipalities use for the police towards the communities they serve. Others think the phrase means to abolish the police altogether.

I think the slogan "Defund the Police" is inaccurate. I don't believe the term means to abolish the police.  While the ranks of the police are full of individuals who do not deserve the badge, the majority of police try to do damn near impossible jobs honorably.  And the presence of rogue officers makes that job even more difficult. 

 One thing I wonder is that there are calls police receive and respond to that they do not really need to respond to. Why does a cop need to respond to a complaint about a homeless person being where they shouldn't be? Why does a cop have to respond to a call about an illegal street vendor? Why does a cop need to respond to somebody selling loose cigarettes?  Why does a cop need to respond to a dispute between neighbors?  Why does a cop need to respond to a shoplifter? 

There are many situations where police are dispatched where their presence is not really needed.  Robberies, yes. Domestics, yes. Shootings, yes. A situation where violence, especially where weapons could possibly be involved, fine.  But if the matter can be peaceably settled without the use of weapons, why involve the police?  I would think that a cop would prefer to be handling a life-threatening situation or catching bad guys than rousting homeless people or ticketing a street vendor who doesn't have a vendors license. 

I think that defunding the police might mean taking some of the money municipalities used to operating the police and using it to create a community advocacy program that trains people in de-escalation and handling issues that require assistance from trained professionals but not from the police. By all means, if a trained community advocate has a problem that requires the police to make a show of force, maybe the person they're trying to help gets combative or shows a weapon, by all means the police must be summoned, and a quick response is needed to prevent loss of life.  But why not free the police from routine issues so they can concentrate on doing what they are trained to do.

I may be wrong. I'm not a cop.  But put in your feedback.