Should the police be defunded?

This is from my Library Reference Assignment in my College Experience class where we chose two different sides on one topic and end up deciding which side we are with.

Image+of+the+police+in+militarized+gear.

Image of the police in militarized gear.

Maddox Greenberg, Staff Writer

We live in a time in society where we are seemingly divided on every topic in America.  As a nation, we have been divided on countless things, from who was behind the January 6th Insurrection to abortion rights.  Both are truly enormous in stature of importance and criticism.  I’m not here to talk about abortion or the Insurrection.  I’m here to talk about another groundbreaking clash between both parties (could even be regardless of party).  This has been dating back to over a decade ago: police reform.

 

It seems that nearly every week a person of color has died in the hands of the people sworn by oath to protect them.  Activists, politicians, professional athletes, law enforcement deputies and sheriffs, mothers, fathers, grandparents, brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, et cetera, have expressed their sorrow to the families affected in the matter, but also voiced their opinion on the police.

 

I’m sure you’ve seen the videos all over YouTube and social media the past years (especially the past few years) of protests across America and other countries.  People of all colors and nationalities and ages and genders and religious affiliations all chanting across the streets the three words that have rocked a nation and divided us even more.  Not “Say her name” or “Say his name,” but “Defund the Police.”

 

I am not going to voice my political affiliation in this opinion piece. I’m not going to anger someone or irk someone.  I am simply going to be displaying facts on one of the most intriguing, divisive questions in American culture today: should the police be defunded?

 

First, let me tell anyone reading this right now that the word ‘defund’ does not mean ‘get rid of’ or ‘abolish’ all law enforcement officers.  It means to prevent from receiving any funds.  The police have been funded by local governments.  In an Investopedia article titled “How are police departments funded” on April 15, 2022, Daniel Thomas Mollenkamp stated that in “2017, for instance, local governments accounted for about 87% of that spending.  Police spending by state governments in that year, which mostly went to funding highway patrols, represented 1% of direct expenditures.  By contrast, it represented 13% of direct expenditures at the municipal level, 9% for townships, and 8% for counties.  State governments spend more on corrections than local governments, and the level of spending is about even on courts.”

 

Included in that article, Mollenkamp added that “state and local governments together expended $123 billion on police in 2019.”

 

To anyone reading this, who may be irked that I am talking about defunding the police, and may not like the evidence by Mollenkamp, I have another article to tell you about by Casey Delehanty in 2020 titled, “Police with lots of military gear kill civilians more often than less-militarized officers.”  He points out a thing back during the Drug Wars of the 1990s called the 1997 National Defense Authorization Act, which imposes the police must use all gifted military gear by the federal government, from file cabinets to grenade launchers, within one year, even when not required.  This act, also called the 1033 Program, was enacted to stop any potential drug cartels.  On the down low, this, along with “no-knock raids,” killed more Americans of color than police officers with no military equipment.  This equipment was not even supervised by the United States Government.

 

In an article by the ACLU along with the 1033 Program (name gifted after Section 1033), authors Charlotte Lawrence and Cyrus J. O’Brien, PhD., stated that the 1033 Program has caused the militarized officers to “act aggressively and violently, target Black and Brown communities, and kill Americans at an alarming tempo.”

 

According to Georgia College and State University student Brent S. Echols, the 1033 Program has caused “nearly 52 civilian deaths nationally every year.”  However, let me tell you that I saw two Pinellas County police bomb-proof vehicles on the Intersection between Trinity and McMullen.  Now, tell me this: why do we need two bomb-proof vehicles in Pinellas County? Why?

 

If the police are still following the 1033 Program, with 1,055 total people killed by police in 2021 (per statista.com) and 103 availability named Black people shot by police last year (per Newsweek) and 213 people of color compared to 234 Caucasian people killed by police last year (per statista.com), then this could be and should be a major problem to focus on to fix.

 

This is not about race.  Police still kill Caucasian people as well.  Still isn’t any better.  I propose we should abolish the 1033 Program that is doing more harm than good.  That is one reason why we should defund the police.  Another is that, whether known or not, there can be corrupt cops.  Whether you’re a corrupt cop or a corrupt politician, you are still being bribed and are in the wrong.

 

The last reason falls in research I did on my paper a while back.  In a BBC News article I found dating back to last year, “How US police training compares with the rest of the world,” author Jake Horton points out that we use our firearms on our own citizens than any nation on Earth.  In a chart by Prison Policy Initiative Report in 2020, it shows that the U.S. has almost 350 million people killed, while the closest, Canada, has 100 million.

Per BBC News article, ‘How US police training compares with the rest of the world’

 

We are home to “half of the world’s civilian-held firearms” and to less than 10% were deemed unarmed when killed by police.

 

In another chart, Horton shows that we spend a little over 500 hours of police officer training.  Canada has 1,000; England has nearly 2,300; Australia has 3,500; Germany with 4,000; and the top country Finland has up to almost 5,500 hours of police training.

Per BBC News article, ‘How US police training compares with the rest of the world’

We have over 70 hours of police training dedicated to firearm training, meanwhile over 20 hours dedicated to de-escalating situations.  “On average, U.S. officers spend around 21 weeks training before they are qualified to go on patrol,” wrote Horton in his article.

 

Nearly 1% of the U.S. GDP is spent on policing.  I, and others, want the U.S. to move that to other services.  Per TheBalance, the U.S. spends almost 70% of the GDP for households and 3.1% ($755 billion) on the military.

 

I think we should move any funding from the police to government welfare like public housing, health insurance, food stamps, among other things.  We should also give more money into the educational system, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, among other things.  We should be helping more people—our fellow man—than giving money to the police, who, under the 1033 Program, could use brute force against our fellow man.

 

If we have to lose a few officers, then so be it.  Because the more money we put into help stop homelessness or illiteracy programs and programs for the gifted and our own educational system (and to “The Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Can’t Read Good and Who Wanna Learn to Do Other Stuff Good Too”), we will be more educated and have a booming economy because we would be lowering the unemployment rate, like what John Yoo and Horace Cooper of Hoover’s Digest said.

 

They, though, argued we should find ways to keep our police funded and help our fellow man.  Things like not having the police try to retrieve taxes from citizens on tickets and such, take away the police unions that try to help the “bad” cops instead of helping the “good” cops, and to make the hiring process for cops more fair and stricter so we’ll have the “diamonds in the rough.” The police most likely would hand out more tickets so they can meet their “quota.”

 

I like their idea a lot.  My thoughts are we need to think for the good of our country and ourselves instead of what our party wants us to think.  The solution isn’t no police; no one could think anything so silly.  What everyone wants is for the police to do the job they have dedicated their lives to: help the citizens and protect them from each other and make sure we follow the rules.

 

We spend way too much money on federal prisons to put so many people of color, so many people with disabilities, so many people innocently sent to prison, and so many jailed because they were homeless (which homelessness is considered a crime in some parts of cities).  We as a society should try to stop bad cops like Derek Chauvin, or the others on videos I’ve seen that play copyrighted music so no evidence could go against them in a court of law, or even those who lie on police records to change the narrative and put them, the aggressor, as the victim.

 

A cop playing Taylor Swift video below:

https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-57698858

 

What Colin Kaepernick said was right.  We need to fix the problem going on with our police forces.

 

The flag is not the problem.  The flag symbolizes two things that make America great: the people who “serve” for our country and those who “protect” us.  Like a balance, if one side is too heavy or powerful, then it is not even.  But if both are equal in power and strength, it is a perfect balance.  Perfectly equal.

 

America is a great country, and it can be even better.  All we have to do is be together as one and solve one problem at a time.  Because America is great, and it can be golden.  All we have to do is work together as a cohesive unit and not judge one another on political or religious views for one minute.  We need to stand as one.  As one America.  As citizens.