There is, at present, an entity that has recently gained notoriety. I don’t know if they were around as a movement in time past, and if so, for how long, and frankly, I don’t much care.
That movement is called the “Defund the Police” movement.
I want to talk just a little about my view of this movement.
To begin with, I have to say something that applies to more than this particular group, but that I find troublesome about this one, as well as others (Black Lives Matter comes to mind).
When the name of the people in question was brought to light, there was a “general outcry” in which a good many people said (and in my view, rightly so), “Wait a minute now! Let’s not go crazy.”
The problem is, movements like to pick “catchy” names—names that are likely to “stick in the minds and hearts” of those who hear them. In this case, the chosen moniker was one that seemed to imply the entity formed wished to essentially “do away with” law enforcement on a wholesale basis. And all considered, who could argue that a name like that would not evoke the response stated above.
The argument by those in the body in question, is that, though the name may sound like law enforcement will “go the way of the dinosaur, never to be seen again,” this is not the intent.
Rather, it has been argued that various policing entities around the country should be “reevaluated” with an eye towards changing their makeup in substantial ways.
I’m not saying this is a terrible idea, though I believe there are reasons it won’t work well in the present environment.
The first of these, sadly, is public unions (in this case, specifically various police unions). One of the sad realities of modern policing is that the unions have a huge amount of input into what happens to “union members” when it’s discovered they’re guilty of wrongdoing of one sort or another.
To be frank, this is perhaps the biggest reform issue for people doing the job of public safety through policing.
An officer does something that should get him or her fired, demoted, even jailed, only to have the union step in and make it so appropriate action is not taken as a result.
You can make arguments all day, about “demilitarizing” the police, and I will stand right there with you, and say that for the most part there is little to no reason for certain of the gear carried or otherwise used by many departments. I say “for the most part,” because it may make sense to have certain units that have the kind of equipment that’s become ubiquitous to many large departments.
That doesn’t mean entire forces should be so equipped, just that a small portion might have such tools available for their use. Such equipment should probably not generally be for “common use.”
The next thing I often hear bandied about is the idea that, “There are a number of types of incident to which police are currently expected to respond, for which they are not, and can not be reasonably trained.”
Where I “get” that there’s something to this idea, the problem I see is, sending the folks who are supposedly trained to deal with the situations in question would often be literally endangering their lives.
Put simply, most of the time, when police are called on the deal with such circumstances, it’s because of the emergent nature of the situation in question.
You can make the argument that, “Those situations would be far less common if there were appropriately trained people working in various positions in communities throughout the country.” That would be reasonable to say, and it’s an idea that probably should be addressed to the various bodies involved in the funding and creation and modfication of such entities.
Until such a thing happens though, there will be a need for law enforcement to deal with those situations (and probably after such things happen, but we hope to a lesser degree).
Arguing that monies should be removed from policing budgets to fund such entities may sound reasonable, even desirable. The problem is, such a thing pretty much never “spins up” quickly. So if you remove funding from law enforcement without first “fixing” the thing or things that are causing them to deal with situations to which you cannot send social workers and the like, you just make their lives harder and in no wise better.
I have been wont to argue that Social Security should cease to exist. That being said, I’ve never been inclined to argue that it should no longer be, if there are people counting on it who have nowhere else to go. Further, I have not been willing to say its existence should stop without a serious plan going forward. Even then, the “phase out” would have to be incremental, and done in a way that didn’t harm people in the process.
The same is true for changing the funding for law enforcement agencies. You want to talk about reducing funding? What’s your plan to make the currently very necessary services no longer an integral part of what they’re doing? How long will you need to do it? What will you do to prove that the workload for officers has decreased sufficiently to remove funding?
In short, without some sort of plan, none of the talk is worth a hill of beans.
I’m going to add one more consideration.
I’m no expert in any of this. It’s my belief that most folks currently “making noise about” this sort of thing are no more informed or better trained, than am I.
That doesn’t mean they can’t be involved in the conversation, just that, in general, that’s what needs to happen, conversation.
Protesting is not likely to be helpful, let alone rioting and looting.
The world isn’t a perfect place. Though that’s the case, taking radical actions to attempt to “fix” it, probably is not the best solution. Slow, measured, determined action and discussion is most likely what’s called for.
Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.