What Does it Mean to Defund the Police, and Why Should Citizens Care?

NPSF - Op Ed Simon Lewis

“What a ridiculous idea. It should never come… We need order in our streets. And the easiest way to have that is to have a strong presence of character-driven law enforcement officers,” said Republican U.S. Representative Tim Scott in an interview when asked about defunding police. Detroit Police Chief James Craig stated, “I mean, so we talk about de funding, and then there’s talk about dismantling in some instances, it’s clearly a knee jerk reaction — this notion that one-size-fits-all, it’s flawed… I mean how does that go with ensuring that police departments are providing effective and efficient policing to the community they’re serving? It just makes no sense.” Other police chiefs and law enforcement leaders around the country have echoed the same sentiment: If citizens want increase police accountability and police-public relationship and provide better training and resources, the notion to defund the police directly contradicts those goals. 

Even so, cities across the nation are considering defunding- or even completely dismantling- police departments. Progressive activists and politicians alike are joining in on this call, and yet the idea of defunding seems to mean different things to different people. At its most basic, “Defunding the police” means reallocating or redirecting funding away from the police department to other government agencies funded by the local municipality. Simply put- defunding the police means budget cuts, fewer resources, and less ability to provide meaningful training opportunities due to lack of accessible funds. 

At least 16 major cities in the United States are considering defunding their police departments. In Seattle, the city council is considering a 50% cut to police deparment budgets. In other major cities- the cuts are less drastic but still harmful to the departments that are trying to provide better resources and training to their officers. The International Association of Chiefs of Police said in a statement: “Promoting community policing; embracing systemic reforms; and improving police training, policies, and procedures will require both dedicated resources and an enduring commitment from police leaders, community members, and elected officials. All that “defunding” and shifting resources away from the police will accomplish is to further reduce the ability of police leaders to enact the positive change that is required.”

The first step in combating this shortsighted and knee-jerk reaction to defund police is for all citizens to be aware of the issue, recognize the long-term implications of this pendulum swing against police, and stand up for their local departments. Legislation to defund police is taking place in cities all over the country, and it is vital for pro-police and law-abiding citizens to stand up to their elected officials if they are calling for the defunding of police departments. National Police Support Fund has created free resources to inform and engage the public on this deeply important issue, and will continue to roll out resources to support police in this tumultuous social and political environment.

Visit https://nationalpolicesupportfund.com/issues/defunding-police/ to learn more.

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