|Essay type:||Persuasive essays|
|Categories:||Race United States Police Police brutality Black lives matter|
Recently, there have been surges in the Black Lives Matter protests after George Floyd was killed in the police's hands. The protest's main purpose is to defund the police in the United States to ensure that the streets and communities. Defunding the police means moving funds away from police departments into more essential community resources such as housing, social work, and mental health issues. Some police advocates are against defunding police departments and are for the idea of reallocating police funds but keeping police departments. Some people advocate for a combination of defunding and other police reforms such as bias training and the use of body cameras to hold the police more accountable. Recent statistics show that police departments in the US receive about $115.4 billion a year from local and state governments. This budget has drastically increased from $43.2 billion in the 70s (Burley, 2020). Police budgets make up about 5% of the overall local and state budgets. About 96% of police funds are focused on operational costs, such as benefits and salaries. Individual states and counties are currently allowed to allocate more funds to the police, depending on the need (Burley, 2020). For example, Los Angeles provided about 23% of the overall budget to police departments. Many people feel that police funding is an unnecessary expense for the country and are, therefore, advocating for the police to be defunded. In response to police defunding demands, President Donald Trump stated that there would be no defunding or dismantling of the police because they have to maintain peace and ensure that the American communities are safe (Sherman, 2020). However, there are many logical reasons as to why the police in the US should be defunded. This paper shows some of the reasons why the US police must be defunded and the positive implications of this move.
According to Sherman (2020), police departments have been historically violent and oppressive. Therefore, defunding them would reduce violence against minority community members and the overall crime rate. Burley argues that the policing system in America has never been impartial. The first police department comprised of slave patrols and the modern police systems has redirected violence and oppression at the Blacks to reinforce Jim Crow laws, crack on protests, and wage war on 'drugs.' Police departments are overly equipped with surplus funds that increase police firepower and the general attitude that they are at constant war with communities, which increases violent incidents (Sherman, 2020). A survey conducted at the Minneapolis Department reveals that the department is not broken and works the way it always has. The survey concludes that the police system was implemented to protect only the wealthy and influential people; thus, racial violence has been its core mission since its inception (Jackson et al., 2020).
The system puts hundreds of colored people in prison, depriving them of employment, voting rights, housing, and education, among other rights that are automatically accorded to the white. In response to George Floyd's death, which occurred at the hands of the police, the research found that Black men are two and a half times more likely to experience police violence and death than white men (Jackson et al., 2020). Also, Black women are twice more likely to experience police brutality than white women. The study also shows that policemen are two times more likely to use excessive force against colored people than whites. For example, in 2019, police in the US killed 1,097 people, with 24% being Black despite them, representing only 14% of the national population (Jackson et al., 2020). In 2018, the American Public Health Association declared that police brutality was a public health issue since police officers committed almost 10% of all US homicides. Even if some of the deaths are lawful, it is wrong for over 1200 people to be killed by the police every year (Jackson et al., 2020). Therefore, defunding the police may lead to less police violence and, ultimately, fewer crimes. In 2014-2015, the New York Police Department abolished the 'broken window' system of policing that involved patrolling for low-level crimes. During this time, the city reported about 2,100 fewer crimes, representing a 6% drop in weekly crimes (Jackson et al., 2020). When the police stop actively responding to low-level crimes, then there may be fewer opportunities for criminal activities.
Secondly, Miah (2020) argues that police reforms have not worked, and it is, therefore, necessary to defund and abolish police departments. Miah states that the only way to end police brutality is to eliminate the contact between the police and the public. There is no time in US history that the police did not exercise brutality and violence against people of color (Miah, 2020). The author notes that the first police misconduct investigation was conducted in 1894 in New York. During the investigation, over a hundred police officers were convicted of about 57 charges of third-degree assaults, 47 charges of second-degree assault, and other numerous charges of oppression, neglect, and rape (Miah, 2020). Of all the charged officers, only four were released, and three of them were released because they had assaulted other officers. Jackson et al. (2020) cite the Minneapolis Police department, which is often perceived as a model for progressive reforms in the police. The department provides training for implicit bias, de-escalation, and procedural justice. It further fosters and embraces officer diversity, community policing, body cams, and created an intervention program to trace rogue officers (Jackson et al., 2020). It also offers training regarding mental disorder intervention and reconciliatory efforts in minority communities. However, despite these reforms, George Floyd and 52 other Black men, 15 Indian-American men, and nine Hispanic men were killed by the Minneapolis police officers between 2000 and May 2020 (Jackson et al., 2020). This data shows that efforts to reform the police departments are futile, and therefore defunding may be a better option in ensuring peaceful co-existence in American communities.
In another article, Burley (2020) follows the trail of protests in the US following the death of various men of color in the hands of the police. He argues that police use the funds delegated to them to exercise racism and discrimination against people of color, especially members of the African-American community. Burley states that if police departments continue being funded by the government, the US will never see an end to the multiple incidents of violence against people of color (Burley, 2020). As such, the author recommends police departments to be defunded and improvements made to make police officers more educated and accountable. Burley argues that police have been funded and empowered to provide security to communities, yet they use this privilege to target minority communities, especially the African-Americans. As such, the author proposes that learning institutions should end contracts that require police patrols in schools and universities (Burley, 2020). Ending those contracts will mean that institutions will need less money for policing; thus, the money can be used for other functions such as mental health, social work, and homelessness. Further, the author asserts that the money should be redirected to social programs such as education, healthcare, housing, and recreation (Burley, 2020). He concludes that defunding the police will make the streets safer and more accommodating to all people.
Additionally, authors Rushin and Michalski (2020) state that defunding the police would have beneficial economic impacts. The authors state that police department budgets are currently pretty high and take up a significant percentage of the national budget. Police are funded and equipped with extensive and expensive military equipment that does not add value to their work (Rushin & Michalski, 2020). Instead, the police use the funds to aggravate violence and brutality, especially to people of color. Police also use the funds for their personal gains and invest in other ventures that do not reinforce or strengthen security and safety in American communities. Therefore, police departments should be defunded and allocated to other crucial sectors in the economy, such as education, housing, and mental health. They add that the police are currently dealing with calls about domestic disputes, homelessness, mental illness, and many other non-criminal incidents that occur within communities. Too much of policing activities are directed and generated towards non-criminal issues that should be handled by other experts in society (Rushin & Michalski, 2020).
Communities do not need funds for policing efforts; rather, they need money for housing, education, and quality life initiatives. Therefore, the police departments should be defunded and the funds allocated to the people who are trained and equipped to respond to community issues such as social workers, EMTs, or housing facilitators effectively. Issues such as drug addiction, domestic disputes, homelessness, and others should not be directed to the police (Rushin & Michalski, 2020). Instead, community experts should be funded and empowered to deal with these issues. Local and state governments have dedicated many funds to policing, which has not made communities safer. Defunding the police departments will allow more money to be channeled to community programs that prevent the need for policing (Rushin & Michalski, 2020). Governments should fund neighborhood organizations that engage the youth in well-run-after school programs and summer programs, which deter them from becoming involved in criminal activities.
However, despite the positive impacts that defunding can have on society, many advocates are against the move. For example, Preito-Hodge and Tomaskovic-Devey (2020) state that the efforts to defund the police are misinformed and misplaced, resulting in corruption and insecurity. The authors prefer governments to use other methods for ensuring that the police are accountable for their operations (Preito-Hodge & Tomaskovic-Devey, 2020). These methods include enforcing policing programs, raising the minimum educational standards for new officers, and increasing officer diversity. According to the authors, these measures will improve community relations and reduce police aggression (Preito-Hodge & Tomaskovic-Devey, 2020). In a different article, Robinson (2020) states that any attempt to defund or reform the police department is futile because the move did not work in the 60s, and it should not be expected to work now. The author states that creative efforts in the 60s attempted to raise no-punishment initiatives, but they failed to be effective (Robinson, 2020). Therefore, dismantling coercive enforcement by police defunding may be an unsuccessful technique to ensure safe policing.
Despite the arguments made by the people against police defunding, evidence suggests that defunding the departments will have more positive impacts than other police reforms. Therefore, basing on the statistics and arguments presented above, this paper concludes that police departments in the US should be defunded to allow for better treatment of people with color and the allocation of funds to more essential sectors in the economy such as homelessness, education, housing, and mental health issues.
Burley, R. (2020). US protests: A lesson in violence. Guardian (Sydney), (1919), 10.
Jackson, J., McKay, T., Cheliotis, L., Fine, A., Trinkner, R., & Bradford, B. (2020). Racist policing is making Black
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