‘Defund the police’: What does it really mean? Three questions.
After nationwide protests after George Floyd was suffocated under the knee of a police officer in Minneapolis, the idea of defusing police departments has gained momentum in national law enforcement and race discussions. But the term "defund" has caused confusion and setback for those who are concerned, which means that the police are completely eliminated.
What does it really mean to disappoint the police?
Many supporters say that the idea is based on a simple question: what role should the police play in society, even if their departments take up huge chunks of financially strained municipal budgets?
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Police officers have become first responders to a variety of social problems that could be better left to other professionals, many argue. Police officers themselves often say that they are asked to act as social workers, family counselors or crisis managers.
“When we talk about defusing the police, it differs from reform movements in that you use the huge sums of money that you send to highly armed police forces and instead invest in education, health services and infrastructure, especially the most marginalized and underrepresented within the police force Communities, ”says Tyler Parry, professor of African American and African diaspora studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
More controversial, however, other advocates argue that American police have been critically broken, their history has been shaped by structural racism and overt racist violence, and that de-funding police departments is the first step in revising a judicial system that focuses on people with overwhelming complexions and oversized numbers.
Are the ideas behind defusing the police new?
No. Many scientists distinguish between three efforts to overhaul American criminal justice systems in recent decades: abolition, defusion, or reform. In the 1970s, supporters called for the abolition of the up-and-coming American prison complex, by far the largest in the world. Scientists began to investigate "systemic racism" within the country's criminal justice system, including the so-called war on drugs, which was waged against black and other non-white Americans, although over 60% of illegal substances such as cocaine and marijuana still exist as white Americans will.
Much of the Defund movement today comes from the early ideas of the more radical abolition movement, scientists say. "There is a growing feeling that reforms are simply not enough," says Sekou Franklin, professor of political science at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro. "They had body cameras, such as implicit bias training and de-escalation training. But you could do all of these reforms, but the race differences never seem to change."
Have US cities started to devalue their police stations?
Minneapolis, the city where George Floyd was killed by the police, is ready to divert police funds into affordable housing, solutions to the opioid epidemic, and other mental health resources. In Los Angeles, city officials said police funding would be cut by $ 150 million and then redistributed to color communities "so we could invest in jobs, health, education, and healing." New York officials announced that they would start diverting funds from the NYPD for social services. On June 15, city officials also announced that they were disbanding the 600 plainclothes police force involved in the city's most notorious police shootings.
However, some alternatives date from before the death of Floyd. Seven years ago, Camden, New Jersey, abolished its police force and replaced it with a revised and far less aggressive police force. Last year, 911 operators in Austin, Texas were instructed to ask if the caller needed police, fire services, or psychiatric services. And in Eugene, Oregon, city officials formed a team called CAHOOTS - Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Streets - that deployed crisis workers and medical professionals with mental health training to respond to emergency calls.
“Although the crime rate has dropped dramatically in the past 30 years, we still keep more than 2.3 million people in prison - and more than half of the people there have drug or alcohol abuse problems, many of them with mental health problems and almost everyone of them are poor and have had problems in the education system or lack of jobs in their communities, ”said Stephanie Lake, director of the criminal justice program at Adelphi University in New York. "So the big push today is that our society not only has to redefine policing, but also the role and mission of policing."
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