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Defunding: The End Of Police?

Opinion – Christiana Roberts

Defunding the police will reduce police violence and crime, and if the latest events in the Black Lives Matter movement are anything to go by, we have a long way to go. These current events have brought to the surface the deep imprint that racism has …

Defunding the police will reduce police violence and crime, and if the latest events in the Black Lives Matter movement are anything to go by, we have a long way to go. These current events have brought to the surface the deep imprint that racism has on our structures. Despite the idealistic view of police being presented as protecting our communities, it is more evident now than ever that police are doing more harm than good. Most police call outs are to non-violent encounters, for example, the peaceful protests over the killing of George Floyd. However, it is the police presence that encourages the use of force and violence between police and adversaries. This is due to the training of police officers being rooted in violent tactics, rather than teaching them the social skills needed to de-escalate an encounter. Police use of force and subsequent violence, as noted in US history, is plentiful.

Police use of force and violence did not begin with George Floyd, the police have a long history of using force and violence against people of colour, especially in the United States. Police brutality has been evident since before the Civil War and was intertwined in the Ku Klux Klan in which some police officers were secret members. However, it is technology that has made it possible for such violence to be extensively and publicly documented. The recent killing of George Floyd is just one event, proceeded by the killings of Breonna Taylor and Eric Garner, that highlights how people of colour are impacted by police violence and use of force.

To reduce such violence and subsequent crime, I suggest that funding be shifted to deal with issues such as mental health and addiction that are at the root of crime. By shifting police funding to other govt or not-for-profit organisations and addressing the reason crime occurs, we may see beneficial results. In my opinion, this is a better use of taxpayer money than its current allocation, police. Shifting funding to other government sectors, such as education and work infrastructure, may address the structural inequalities that promote crime. Placing police in the streets in response to protests, seen in recent events linked to the Black Lives Matter movement, is only placing a band-aid over the wider structural problem.

However, defunding may be an inappropriate word here. It is not suggested that police be removed of all funding, moreover, some of their funding needs to be reallocated. Currently, police are responding to any case from minor to major homicide cases, in addition to the piles of paperwork they complete. Reallocating funding to non-government organisations to address the tedious paperwork tasks would not only be a more efficient use of taxpayer money, but it would also allow police officers to pay more attention to solving crime. This reduction of police workload also reduces officer burnout, allowing them to more efficiently solve cases. This would also increase homicide clearance rates. I am not suggesting abolishing the police system entirely as I still believe they place a vital role in solving serious crime. I do suggest that taking some funding from the police and investing it in other organisations can reduce crime, police violence and the subsequent harm that occurs.

The Black Lives Matter movement is just one example of police use of violence and the resonating impact it is having on thousands of people. Defunding, or rather reallocating, the police is a solution that will prevent such crime and violence in the future. The objective of the Police is to protect their communities rather than harm them, so let their defunding be the beginning of healing a much larger wound. Not only will defunding the police encourage an end to police violence, but it will also encourage better use of police time, resulting in a better focus on and a decrease in crime. Defunding isn’t a state-specific, or even a national, problem though. If we don’t commit to defunding the police as a worldwide community – to seeing one another as allies in a much larger fight against police violence – we may continue to reap the consequences of police violence. Let the recent events of the Black Lives Matter movement, in its grief, show us the way.

Bibliography

Adams, K. (2020, June 8). What it means to defund the police. Retrieved from Marketplace: https://www.marketplace.org/2020/06/08/what-it-means-to-defund-police/

BBC News. (2020, September 23). Breonna Taylor: Timeline of black deaths caused by police. Retrieved from BBC News: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-52905408

Diallo, K., & Shattuck, J. (2020, June 1). George Floyd and the history of police brutality in America. Retrieved from Boston Globe : https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/06/01/opinion/george-floyd-history-police-brutality-america/

Ferguson, A. (2020, June 14). ‘Defund the Police’ Does Not Mean Defund the Police. Unless It Does. Retrieved from The Atlantic: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/06/what-does-defund-police-really-mean/612904/

Herrera, J. (2020). The Defunding Debate. Retrieved from Columbia Law Review: https://www.cjr.org/special_report/defund-the-police.php

Ray, R. (2020, June 19). What does ‘defund the police’ mean and does it have merit? Retrieved from Brookings: https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2020/06/19/what-does-defund-the-police-mean-and-does-it-have-merit/

Taylor, K.-Y. (2020, August 14). We Should Still Defund the Police. Retrieved from Racial Injustice in America: https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/defund-the-police

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