The catch phrase that sends shock waves across the country doesn’t mean what it says.
If you are alarmed and disgusted by the phrase ‘defund the police’ you are not alone. It brings visions of crime running wild without any consequences for the perpetrators and a complete breakdown of civil society.
The Evolving Reality of Defund the Police
It is more of a fundamental shift of dollars to protect and serve from sending armed law enforcement officers to every situation. It tries to better match the resources needed to the incident.
Defunding is a multifaceted approach providing different resources to respond to traditional law enforcement calls and a pathway to de-escalation of volatile encounters. It is happening with some success in other cities.
Camden, New Jersey and Austin, Texas have seen a drop in crime and incidents of violent encounters with police once they addressed defunding. Police training was changed to include methods and guidelines to de-escalate and reduce the use of force. Resources were shifted to have social services like mental health experts and medical help respond to 911 calls instead of always sending armed law enforcement. There isn’t one proven method for success.
This cartoonist from the Minneapolis Star and Tribune says it best:
In the spirit of redirecting resources, we often put our police force in situations where a social worker is best suited to handle the situation. Video was released of an Atlanta police officer fatally shooting black man Rayshard Brooks. The footage shows officer Garrett Rolfe respond to a call of a man sleeping in the drive-through lane at a Wendy’s drive through. After several knocks on the window, Mr. Brooks responded and parked his vehicle. Mr. Brooks was given a field sobriety test and after failing agreed to a breathalyzer test. Mr. Brooks blew a 1.08, well beyond the legal limit, and was told he would be placed under arrest.
During the arrest, Mr. Brooks, forcefully avoided being handcuffed, took a stun gun from the arresting officers and proceeded to run away. That’s when fatal shots were fired.
The crime did not deserve the punishment, but the footage shows police officers struggling to detain Mr. Brooks.
We can’t stop and think what would have happened if a licensed social worker was on the scene. Someone trained to understand what mental state Mr. Brooks was in and could have taking him to an office to sleep off the effects of alcohol instead of a jail cell. Mr. Brooks was in Atlanta to celebrate his daughters birthday.
The goal is to better deal with societal issues while mitigating police officers exposure in situations they are just not trained to handle. One life was taken in Atlanta, and another two will forever be altered.
We can’t stop and think if there was a better way.