What does it mean to defund the police?
Since the death of George Floyd and the subsequent protests, two rallying cries have been consistent – “Justice for George” and “Defund the Police.” The first one is self-explanatory, but what does the City Council mean when it pledges to defund the police?
First, it’s important to note that defunding the police does not mean ending emergency services or even getting rid of the police department. It just means that some funds would be directed away from the police department to other community initiatives with the goal of preventing crime through community support rather than reacting to crime after the fact. As of now, Lisa Bender, the City Council President has a goal of redirecting a percentage of the $193 million police budget to other community services.
Rather than going to police overtime or further militarization of the police force, this funding could be redirected to preventative measures such as mental health, housing, and education support. Further, when there are emergencies, funding could be directed to specialists that are trained to handle mental health crises rather than sending in an armed police force. For more information on where the money would directed and what would replace the police, click here.
Has this happened anywhere else?
Yes. Police practices have been changed in Austin, TX, Eugene, OR, and Camden, NJ. One example of the changes these cities have made includes asking whether 911 callers need police presence, the fire department, or mental health support.
So – are we still going to have police?
Yes. While some people are calling for a full abolishment of the police, this is unlikely to happen (at least any time soon). It is much more likely that new laws will be enacted to end controversial police practices – such as no-knock warrants – and money will be used to create an emergency response protocol with more nuance.
In the meantime, if you find yourself needing an attorney to help you navigate the current legal system – click here.