Whether they are handing out speeding tickets, or chasing down criminals, police officers around the country risk their lives each day to sustain safety in America. As incredible as these kind-hearted and selfless workers are, many people overlook their charms and instead see unnecessary violence. Because of the few officers who were responsible for the horrific actions against George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many other innocent citizens, cops as a whole have gained a distorted reputation for being vicious and ignoble.
The ruthless attacks against peaceful protesters paired with the violent discrimination towards black Americans has led many to believe that police officers are beyond reform, and that abolition is the only resolution. At the moment, this may sound like a good idea: no police means no further acts of police brutality. However, as dangerous as it may seem to have aggressive police officers roaming the streets, defunding them would only exacerbate the situation.
Reallocating a portion of police funding has been suggested by many Americans wanting peace in their community. For the wealthy, this may play out as expected; but for the citizens on the poorer side, defunding the police would only create a harsher environment. According to Jacqueline B. Helfgott, the Professor of Criminal Justice and Director of the Crime and Justice Research at the Seattle University Department of Criminal Justice, the rich communities would hire private security as they have already begun doing, and the homeless and marginalized would be forced to fend for themselves. In addition to this lower-class disadvantage, Helfgott’s research shows that defunding the police would lead to less officers to protect local schools, answer 911 calls, and respond to serious crimes therefore threatening the safety of the public.
Many of the Americans in favor of this government modification believe that without these funds, guns, pepper spray, and other weapons used by the police force would be the first to go. This in fact is the exact opposite of what would happen. The reduced financial support would lead the police to cut the less essential components of their organization. Personal development programs such as the Homeless Outreach, in which a team of officials study, develop, and implement strategies to deal with environmental and societal factors that affect the homeless, would most likely be discontinued. Coffee with a Cop, a California nonprofit organization which helps create a stronger connection between citizens and their police officers, would likely be phased out as well.
At this point, if losing these community service and supportive-youth projects that are paid for by the police budget are not taken into consideration, then defunding the police may still seem like a good idea. In the end, when pathos fails, money talks. If a portion of the police force’s funding were to be redistributed to other organizations, cops would be forced to look elsewhere for their income. The most convenient option would be to hand out tickets and snatch the money directly from citizens’ bank accounts. This precise situation took place after Illinois police budgets were slashed in 2010. In an attempt to raise funds for the department, Illinois officers implemented a system mandating that $15 from each citation paid (such as a speeding ticket) is granted to the state police. This ordinance would most likely increase the amount of citations handed out as officers strive to earn more money for their department, as well as hit the reset button on full police funding. This revolution would only push America back to where it started, misuse citizens’ time and money, and would overall be completely inconsequential.
Racial inequality is no doubt an issue that needs to be addressed, but this proposal does not seem like it is anywhere near an adequate solution. For a safer country, the root of the problem is what needs to be confronted. The police force as a whole is not what is causing these acts of discrimination and superfluous brutality; the individual officers and the authorities that trained them are at fault here. Before we kick the whole team out of the game, we need to throw a red card at the dangerous player. Punish the cops that misuse their authority and train the next generation of officers to act as defenders of the law, not their pride.