While this phrase isn’t new, we’ve heard “defund the police” a lot lately. For those of us who come from cop families, like me, this phrase can be triggering. Defund the police, WTF?
Since you asked, here’s my opinion.
Defund the police is a catchy & shortened version of the whole story.
Defund the police does NOT mean police officers aren’t needed. Police officers are absolutely needed.
But can we all agree that police officers are overworked and underpaid all while putting their lives in danger every day?
(Kind of sounds like teachers as well, am I right? I digress.)
Good, I agree too. I believe officers should be paid more (hazard pay, anyone?), trained more, and be asked to do what they are trained to do (seems fair, right? I’m all about fairness).
Currently, that’s not happening. Officers are being asked to handle situations that they were NEVER trained to handle. Add that to the systemic racism that is present within departments, policies, laws, and leaders, whether we want to acknowledge it or not, and we are setting officers up to fail. To be terrible at their jobs (or, more fairly, to be terrible at what we’re asking them to do). To be paid unfairly for the work they’re putting in and the emotional taxation that comes with feeling like a failure, risking their lives on the job, and the feeling that society is against them, every hour they work.
Here’s what I’d like to see happen. I’d like officers to be paid more, to be provided more education, to be paid while they are being educated, and to receive a raise once they have completed additional training.
I’d also like for them to be asked to serve our citizens fairly. Here’s what I mean by “fairly”.
-to be held accountable for their actions (this is fair to citizens)
-to be asked to handle what they’re trained to handle (this is fair to officers)
How does this happen when we have a tight budget?
- By de-militarizing our police (why do we have a military if our police officers are equipped to handle that level of disruption? Wasted money and unnecessarily redundant).
- By re-allocating some (not all, calm down) funding towards community programs that help prevent problems that police are currently being called to handle.
- By re-allocating some (not all, calm down) funding towards community services that have employees who are educated & trained on how to handle certain calls (mental health disturbances, for example. We know mental health to be an actual illness – why are we calling officers instead of health care professionals? Unfair ask of officers and unfair to our citizens.)
When you research what defunding the police actually means, it’s hard not to see the long-term benefits for all sides if done properly.
Don’t let a catchy (and maybe scary) phrase keep you from further researching what good this could create for everyone:
spouses and families of officers
people of color
members of the LGBTQIA+ community
our homeless population (also including veterans)
people struggling with mental health disorders (also including veterans)
people struggling with addiction (also including veterans)
families where both parents work
children in the foster care system…
I could go on, and I’m missing major subpopulations I’m sure (so sorry, not intentional). Have I made my point, though? This impacts everyone and it could be good for everyone.
And whether we agree with the specifics on defunding the police, let’s stop balking at the phrase, research more, and get involved.
Here’s a start (and yes, I included a Fox News link. You’re welcome).