In the aftermath of the brutal George Floyd murder, the term police defunding has become a hot topic. In my reading, listening and observation I am convinced there is a lot of confusion and misunderstanding as to what this term means.
My own understanding feels tenuous, but what I believe it to mean (or originally mean) is a more thoughtful and balanced allocation of municipal public safety-related funding. This would include monies for specialized public safety personnel that are better prepared to address certain policing situations than the typical police officer with typical training. As a strategy, this makes good sense to me, should be explored and has the potential to contribute to repairing a broken policing system.
But I am averse to the term “defunding.” I believe it is counter-productive in our country’s current state of high emotion and reactivity.
I believe for many people it conjures up images of disbanded police forces leading to a society of lawlessness — a scary thought for anyone. From some that are promoting defunding the police, it takes on the feel of a punitive action rather than a strategy for change.
I don’t think either of these cited reactions are the intent or the spirit of the concept. Unfortunately, many will only read “police defunding” and it will evoke a certain emotion with a certain reaction; this uniformed reaction will only push opposing sides further apart. The “defunding” label and its connotations are unfortunate.
Counter to defunding police, I believe an infusion of funding will be required to transform our policing system. Generally, higher pay for police officers should attract a higher-quality candidate and retain the desired higher skilled officer. Increased and redesigned training can raise an officer’s policing skills. Implementation of targeted programs and processes will be required to shift the police culture, to combat brutality and systemic racism.
It won’t be cheap or easy.
retired petroleum engineer