“Defund The Police.” It’s a statement we’ve been hearing a lot in the news and in political discussions. It’s a shocking statement at face value because it suggests that money is being denied to law enforcement. And yet, some think it goes too far.
How do we separate the madness behind the statement? To do this, we have to see a few key things I’ll tackle in this post.
“Defunding The Police”: What Does It Mean?
What does it mean to “defund the police”? The statement, believe it or not, has two meanings. Both meanings are being used to complicate what is an easy statement to understand. When one considers that there are two meanings, and that these are distinct, then one can choose to affirm the statement though he or she may disagree with only one statement.
So, with that said, what are the two meanings?
“Defund The Police” = Cut Law Enforcement Funding
The first meaning of “Defund The Police” is to cut law enforcement funding. This means to take some of the funding used for the police and to appropriate it to other things. With police brutality being a controversial topic these days, it makes sense that some would want to deprive the police of funding. The main reason behind the desire to defund the police pertains to how law enforcement purchases so many military weapons. It is as though law enforcement sees itself as an army of sorts, fighting and defeating the “enemy” of lawbreakers.
And yet, law enforcement is not meant to be an army, but rather, a defender of the law and an upholder of justice. Law enforcement should bring the bad guys into prisons and jails. They should use force only when necessary to subdue criminals, and they should maintain the rights of criminals even when arresting them and taking them downtown to the station for questioning.
The thought process behind this meaning is, “Take away funding from the police, and you can use it toward community programs. You can give more empowerment to communities to enforce safety and accountability. You can fund more mental health doctors and consultants, who can work with police to help bring in a criminal holding people hostage without anyone being harmed.” Some individuals are somewhat psychologically-challenged. These individuals need mental assistance, not physical force and weapons, to calm down and turn themselves in.
Having been a caregiver for my eightysomething grandfather who had dementia, I can testify to this. It’s common knowledge that you can’t get brutal or forceful with a dementia patient because they can turn aggressive at a moment’s notice. When you bristle aggressively up to them, they see it as a challenge to who they are. My grandfather would try to fly the house at night and get outside. He would get up at 2am and dress for the day, telling me he had a church service to go to. What he really wanted to do was get outdoors, and he would tell me anything to get there. But his daughter, my aunt (mom’s sister), was a registered nurse (RN). She had given me strict orders that he could no longer be outside by himself because he would also undress himself outdoors. And he saw that as someone denying him his right to go outdoors because the house and land belonged to him.
That’s just one example, but mental health patients turn aggressive when law enforcement gets aggressive. It’s like aggression feeds aggression, which doesn’t de-escalate the situation but “fans the flame” and exacerbates the situation. Seeing men and women in uniform with guns on their hips doesn’t exactly provide soothing calm.
In defunding the police (in this meaning), money used to purchase weapons such as guns, AK-15s, or even bombs would be given to mental health consultants and doctors who could then communicate with criminals in a hostage situation. It would benefit the police, as they wouldn’t have police brutality charges labeled against them. It would also allow the situation to de-escalate, as the police themselves could calm down and stop being so aggressive in the presence of a mental health doctor.
I see nothing wrong with monies being removed from law enforcement. When you consider that the police have to deal with so many things that are not part of their job description, it appears that the best-case scenario would be to hire people and bring them into the ranks as de-escalators, mediators, and mental health doctors rather than official police who have been trained to “subdue” criminals.
Defund The Police = Abolish The Police
The second meaning of “Defund The Police” is to abolish the police, to eliminate law enforcement entirely. Some may question this meaning, but photos from a Black Lives Matter (BLM) protest in North Carolina showed the words “Abolish The Police” spray-painted on a Confederate statue. So this meaning does have some merit in discussing the goals and agenda of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Abolishing the police would get rid of law enforcement altogether. The implication of such a decision would be earth-shattering. Without law enforcement, communities would be left to use their “Community Watch” teams as the law enforcement substitute in the US. Everyday citizens would need training on what to do with criminals. It would be hard to see criminals come to justice in a situation such as this, though, where there would be no law enforcement. It’s hard to imagine what life would be like. How would criminals be caught? How would evidence be collected? Judges would still have to rule, but you would have everyday folk catching criminals and then being tried by more everyday people.
And community watch teams would have to get training and mobilize themselves. Every arrest would boil down to a citizen’s arrest. Citizens would have to become knowledgeable about not contaminating evidence and so on. Then, citizens would have to testify of their arrests in court. They would have to be reliable people in order to testify and have sufficient testimony. You couldn’t have a person with a criminal record arresting other criminals, so only certain people could make citizens’ arrests.
If defunding the police is all about abolishing the police, and if some in the Black Lives Matter movement were to get their wish, citizens would still need training, background checks, and mental health services (such as counseling) available at their disposal after each arrest. These are the same things law enforcement officials need now, so there really would be little difference between community watch groups and current law enforcement. The only difference I can see is that, whereas current law enforcement come from other places and may not know the individuals involved, community watch teams would be local citizens who would have some reputation in and knowledge of their communities. That rapport could serve as a winning ingredient for them.
Which definition does Black Lives Matter (BLM) support?
Which definition of “Defunding The Police” does BLM support? It supports both. There are some BLM supporters that believe too much money is given to law enforcement to buy more weapons for brutality. And then, there are others who believe that defunding the police means abolishing law enforcement. The leaders of Black Lives Movement have proclaimed that they are “Marxist”, which means that they believe in some sort of “level playing field” with regard to income, power, and social status, but followers of BLM don’t necessarily share the same views as BLM movement organizers and leaders.
So with that said, you can support the movement officially, the statement, or both, and you can disagree with abolishing the police and still support the movement. I’m not sure that the abolition of law enforcement will ever be enforced, though that doesn’t mean BLM spearheaders aren’t hopeful.
There are two meanings to the phrase “defunding the police.” One definition pertains to removing some funding from the police to fund other services and people that could prove helpful in arrests. The other refers to abolishing the police, eliminating the police force altogether and placing arresting power in the hands of citizens who would make citizens’ arrests.
We’ll get into more of my reasoning behind why I think abolishing the police is a step too far in the wrong direction in my next post. Stay tuned.