What does it mean to defund the police? This is a question I have been asked by many people in the past two weeks. I was unsure exactly what it meant and unable to provide a true answer to this question.
This nation has been through a three-month stay-at-home order due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people were laid off and instantly out of work. Our routine daily lives were drastically changed overnight. All of this has brought enormous stress and change to our daily lives.
Memorial Day weekend became a glimmer of hope as many states across the nation relaxed their restrictions and allowed us to enjoy a long overdue weekend of much-needed normalcy. I was anxious to see communities thrive again and ease back into life as we once knew it.
The unlawful and completely unnecessary killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police Officers would spark a movement I have not seen in my 31 years of Law Enforcement experience. This movement has carried demands and requests for police reform, defunding police departments and in some cases disbanding departments in their entirety.
As I ponder the various requests and demands, I have tried to imagine what the landscape will look like in a move to defund police. By sheer unintended consequences due to the pandemic, cities across California will be initiating significant budget cuts like those experienced in 2010. These cuts will include police and fire. As the demands to defund police departments are increasing, that movement was already being put into place prior to Minneapolis. Once police departments are defunded, we will have to evaluate what impacts that will have on our abilities to serve our communities.
Many police departments will be open to redirecting resources away from their departments to address issues such as homelessness, mental health and quality of life issues. In the three decades I have served, policing has changed drastically and been asked to assume the roles of mental health experts, social workers, victim advocates and counselors.
I am in favor of funding comprehensive programs that will serve the needs of our communities and remove the responsibilities of social issues from police.
- Defund police: Shutterstock