Calls for defunding the police do not demand a permanent end to all law enforcement, but rather a reassessment of what a police department’s duties are.
What does defund the police mean? In the wake of the rapid social upheaval following the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis policeman, officials have demanded that the authorities “defund the police,” despite the outcry.
But what does it mean to defund the police?
Maxim is ambiguous by design. The Minneapolis City Council has already, for the most part, pledged to remove and replace the existing police department, but has released some details of what it will look like, how long it will be, and how it will transition to law enforcement.
As a political rallying cry “Return to Police” gives leaders some flexibility in how they deal with systemic issues in law enforcement.
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For example, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced this week from the New York Police Department that he is “committed to transferring resources and investing money in youth and community service.”
However, he did not say how much money will be taken from the police budget or where that money will go instead. The truth is, there is no clear, clear picture of what “police cheating” looks like. Let us examine some possible directions.
The impetus for redirecting the police forces local and state powers away from police departments and encouraging them to invest that money in areas where they can make better use of such resources. This action is not punitive.
In recent years, the United States’ 18,000 police departments have taken on more social responsibility than they can manage.
Writing for Fortune magazine, Nicole Goodkind explains that the police are now “fighting terrorism abroad, doing homeless services, working with children in schools, responding to calls for mental crises, doing social work and welfare checks, intervening in domestic conflicts, and responding to drugs. High volume. “He says,” Often they are not trained to perform these tasks. “
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Those who support police reimbursement will invest in those who are better equipped to handle these complex, specialized tasks. Unarmed professionals trained in social work, education and drug counselling must now handle many calls made by police officers.
But as more and more of these duties fell into the lap of police officers, police budgets benefited. On average, American cities spend between 33% and 60% of their annual budgets on policing.
In New York City, the annual police budget is $6 billion, exceeding the budgets of homeless services, housing development and care, youth and social services, health and hospitals and parks and recreation.
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Calls for defunding the police do not demand a permanent end to all law enforcement, but rather a reassessment of what a police department’s duties are and how much money is needed to fulfil their new, limited role.
Last month, dozens of social services and civil rights groups submitted a letter to the New York Mayor’s Office, citing ineffective spending and demanding that the bulk of the money allocated to police be invested elsewhere.
“New York City currently spends more on police than health, homeless services, youth development and workforce development,” the letter said.
“It’s wrong and unacceptable. Investing in police and less investment in public health, housing, and social needs help explain why our city is so devastated by COVID-19, especially among adults, and among black, Latino, and other coloured communities.
There is no way we can get out of this epidemic. Eliminating the NYPD’s role in social services, ensuring that civilian caseworkers do not remain on the payroll for years, and reducing the NYPD’s overall budget are resources that have left the city significant and relieving city budget dollars in recent years. “
Has this been done before?
In 2012, the city of Camden, New Jersey, overthrew its entire police force. At the time, the city had one of the highest homicide rates in the country — six times the national average — and announced 175 open-air drug markets in a city about nine square miles away.
The Camden Police Department has been replaced by the rebuilt Camden County Police Department, with its retained chief, J.S.
Under Scott Thompson, he hired more officers and put more emphasis on community involvement. “To make the neighbourhood look and feel the way everyone wants it, a police officer’s helmet and a firearm cannot be achieved by standing in a corner,” Thompson told City Lab. He said his officers “identify more with the Peace Corps than with the Special Forces.”
The results have been mixed for the removal and replacement of Camden’s police force. On the one hand, by 2018, homicide rates have dropped significantly to their lowest rate in thirty years. Most of the city’s officials now have GPS surveillance and body cameras.
The department follows an 18-page policy book, and authorities must intervene in abuse of power – a reform that is relevant to George Floyd’s latest case, where Officer Derek Chuvv’s victim suffocated for nearly 9 minutes and his companions did nothing. Further, the Camden County Police Department reserves the right to dismiss any officer.
However, the ACLU says Camden has seen “a significant increase in the number of arrests and summonses”, causing serious financial difficulties for those living below the poverty line. Some have likened the events in Camden to the “broken windows” of police tactics used in New York City by Rudy Giuliani’s mayor.
Although violent crime declined in that era, the NYPD, led by Commissioner Bill Bratton at the time, completed poorer neighbourhoods and communities of colour, equaling citations and arrests for minor violations of the city’s most vulnerable residents, and ‘stop frisk. ‘
Step by step process
National change in policy will not occur overnight. But a wide variety of social services are currently benefiting from the money and liability paid to police departments. If law enforcement officials can relieve some of the burdens that social workers, pharmacists or medical technicians can best handle, they can focus on their most important duties: protecting the communities they serve and enforcing the law fairly.
As public and political leaders continue to focus their attention on the issue, a clearer picture of what a twenty-first-century police force should look like.