Should communities defund the police?

Should communities defund the police?

Many, good, well-meaning people seem to  think so.

Why Protesters Want to Defund Police Departments, BY LISSANDRA VILLA
JUNE 7, 2020

When you talk to activists who are pushing to defund police departments, there’s a specific word that comes up often: Reimagine.

The idea that police are the only answer to preventing crime and protecting people is one that has been so ingrained into American society that it can be hard to imagine a different reality.

But amid a national uprising against police brutality and systemic racism, activists say it’s time to reimagine what the public actually needs.

In the wake of George Floyd’s death, proponents say it’s time to defund police departments and put that money toward community programs, like after-school programs for students and housing assistance for disadvantaged communities.

Among racial-justice activists, the idea isn’t new: organizers, including in Minneapolis, had already been calling to defund the police for some time.

But now the idea has been taken up by protesters across the country, who say efforts to reform police departments have been unsuccessful and it’s time to curtail the role police play in society.

The U.S. spends more than $100 billion on policing per year.

For many major cities, police department budgets make up a disproportionate amount of overall spending, even as other departments face steep cuts amid the coronavirus. Now, that spending is coming under scrutiny.

One must sympathize with the notion that increased availability of after-school programs for students and housing assistance for disadvantaged communities, would have a positive effect on crime.

Robin DiAngelo, Whiteness, and Police Brutality - The Atlantic
Gratuitous violence

But one must ask, how will the “solution” of less money spent on police departments address the current problem: Racial bigotry in police departments?

Devoting less money to police departments certainly will do nothing to make the police more effective against crime.

And it will do nothing to make the police more racially sensitive.

In fact, it could have the reverse effect.

With less money, police departments will be less able to pay competitive salaries, which will mean attracting and having to accept less-qualified applicants.

There is no scenario by which reducing police budgets will reduce crime.

Crime is directly related to poverty, so spending money to reduce poverty will reduce crime (See the Ten Steps to Prosperity, below). Reducing police budgets will have the opposite effect.

Defunding the police to solve the crime problem would be like solving the hunger problem by taking money from farmers and giving it to the poor.

“People across the country are ready for a defunding framework,” says Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of Black Lives Matter and founder of Reform LA Jails. “We’re ready to chip away at the line items inside of a police budget that really are nonsensical.

Police should not be in charge of mental health crises. They should not be in charge of dealing with homelessness.

They should not be in charge of ‘supporting’ people with drug dependency and addiction. Those are three line items which we can cut out of the police budget and then put that back into health care.”

The author is correct. Where police are responsible for mental health, homelessness and drug addiction, these functions would be better addressed by health care and other specific experts.

But removing these obligations from a police department does nothing to address the fundamental issue: Police bigotry and police brutality.

Police act the way they are trained to act, with no fear of punishment.

Think of the police as being like German Shepherd dogs. Anyone who has owned a German Shepherd knows these can be the most loving and loyal dogs anyone could ask for.

Properly trained, these dogs will allow all sorts of innocent abuse from little children, and will be perfectly safe around adults. Similarly, they can be wonderful protectors of the family.

But poorly trained they can be vicious, unpredictable killers.

Those police who exhibit racial brutality are poorly trained and are surrounded by poorly trained role models. Defunding will not solve that.

Further, police are protected from punishment by laws and unions. Defunding will not solve that.

In fact, defunding itself solves nothing.

If “defunding” merely transfers some police obligations to other socially helpful agencies, that could prove helpful.

But if defunding merely results in less crime-fighting equipment and less manpower, that would prove self-defeating.

Among the national groups calling to defund the police are Black Lives Matter, which is currently collecting signatures for a petition calling for a national defunding of police.

The Movement for Black Lives, a coalition of black organizations that includes Black Lives Matter, is also calling to defund the police, and during one day of action earlier this week encouraged people to press elected officials on the issue.

If my home town of Chicago were to take money from the police department, that would reduce the number of police patrolling the crime hotbeds in the south and west sides of the city.

That would not reduce the number of murders. Nor would it cut down on street-corner drug sales, prostitution, home invasions, car-jackings, rapes, robberies, burglaries, counterfeiting, kidnapping or any other crime you can mention.

In fact, the crime rate almost surely would go up, even with more money devoted to social projects, as the likelihood of being caught would drop.

In New York City, there are growing cries from both activists and officials to cut the New York Police Department’s $6 billion budget.

In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced up to $150 million could be cut from the police budget and redirected to investments in communities of color.

One might as well cut funding for judges in an attempt to make trials fairer. The solution does not match the problem: Police bigotry and police brutality.

The only police-related solutions are better training and surer punishment. More money (not less) should be spent on teaching police officers what is considered “right” and what is considered “wrong.”

More (not less) should be spent on supervision and, where necessary, punishment.

One of the biggest problems is police unions. They, and all other governmental unions, should be abolished. They don’t benefit the public. They don’t benefit the police department.

And they don’t even benefit the individual police officers. They are a costly waste — worse than a waste — an expensive hinderance.

Unions are an excellent protection for private workers, but are wholly inappropriate for vital government services. (See: Should there be workers’ unions in government?)

Finally, we come to the question of cost. How does a state, county, or city pay for adequate police protection without raising taxes unduly.

The answer, of course, has to do with Monetary Sovereignty. While local governments are monetarily non-sovereign, and run short of money, the federal government is Monetarily Sovereign and never can run short of dollars.

The federal government neither needs nor uses tax dollars. So if the people of this nation truly want to have well-trained, adequately funded police departments, without adding more burden to local taxpayers, it should demand that the federal government provide the added funding.

One method would be a population ration, where my local governments are compensated on a per capita basis, by the federal government.

That could pay for local social programs as well as police, at no cost to any taxpayer.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

Monetary Sovereignty Twitter: @rodgermitchell Search #monetarysovereignty Facebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..


The most important problems in economics involve:

  1. Monetary Sovereignty describes money creation and destruction.
  2. Gap Psychology describes the common desire to distance oneself from those “below” in any socio-economic ranking, and to come nearer those “above.” The socio-economic distance is referred to as “The Gap.”

Wide Gaps negatively affect poverty, health and longevity, education, housing, law and crime, war, leadership, ownership, bigotry, supply and demand, taxation, GDP, international relations, scientific advancement, the environment, human motivation and well-being, and virtually every other issue in economics. Implementation of Monetary Sovereignty and The Ten Steps To Prosperity can grow the economy and narrow the Gaps:

Ten Steps To Prosperity:

1. Eliminate FICA

2. Federally funded Medicare — parts A, B & D, plus long-term care — for everyone

3. Social Security for all or a reverse income tax

4. Free education (including post-grad) for everyone

5. Salary for attending school

6. Eliminate federal taxes on business

7. Increase the standard income tax deduction, annually. 

8. Tax the very rich (the “.1%”) more, with higher progressive tax rates on all forms of income.

9. Federal ownership of all banks

10.Increase federal spending on the myriad initiatives that benefit America’s 99.9% 

The Ten Steps will grow the economy and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and the rest.


2 thoughts on “Should communities defund the police?

  1. Recently we published, “Should there be workers’ unions in government?” The conclusion was, there should not be.

    Today, we saw this article:

    “Florida police organization offers to hire cops who were fired or resigned over police misconduct”

    Brevard County F.O.P. President Bert Gamin claimed responsibility for the post regarding the Buffalo and Atlanta police officers and defended them.
    “The police had the legal authority in both cases,”

    Gamin said in an email to Florida Today. “At the time the warnings were provided, the citizens were already breaking the law. Those citizens chose to disregard the warnings. It led directly to escalations and confrontations with the police. When we issue lawful commands/warnings, citizens have a responsibility to comply. The reality is failure to comply leads to escalation.”

    Yes, that’s right. A Florida police union wants to bring in all of the nation’s bad apples, which might be a good idea. That way, we would have them all in one place, and the rest of the nation could be much safer.

    Seriously, this merely shows the danger of police unions. Nationwide, they have used political muscle to protect miscreants rather than protecting the public.


    1. Just after I read this piece and the June 6 one on gov’t/police unions, I saw the story from Philadelphia about Police Staff Inspector Joseph Bologna being charged by the DA with aggravated assault for hitting a Temple Student in the head with a steel baton during one of the protests last week, while the student was released without charges.

      The police officers actions were bad enough, but what struck me the most was the multiple interviews with the local FOP President John McNesby, who, despite clear video evidence, called the actions by the DA “outrageous” and “a rush to judgment”, and that the FOP would use all necessary resources to defend and exonerate Bologna. I would have to agree with your assessment that the only purpose of police unions is to defend police brutality and uphold the status quo – time to go.


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