Defund the police

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Defunding the police is not simply about withdrawing funding for law enforcement... It’s about shifting public funds to new services and new institutions — mental health counselors, who can respond to people who are in crisis without arms. It’s about shifting funding to education, to housing, to recreation. All of these things help to create security and safety. It’s about learning that safety, safeguarded by violence, is not really safety. ~Angela Davis

"Defund the police" is an American slogan that supports divesting funds from police departments and reallocating them to non-policing forms of public safety and community support, such as social services, youth services, housing, education, healthcare and other community resources.

Defund does not mean abolish policing... defunding police highlights fiscal responsibility, advocates for a market-driven approach to taxpayer money, and has some potential benefits that will reduce police violence and crime. ~Rashawn Ray
"Defund the police" sign on a telephone pole in Cincinnati, Ohio, on June 9, 2020


  • For years, community groups have advocated for defunding law enforcement – taking money away from police and prisons – and reinvesting those funds in services. The basic principle is that government budgets and “public safety” spending should prioritize housing, employment, community health, education and other vital programs, instead of police officers. Advocates argue that defunding is the best way forward since attempts to reform police practices over the last five years have failed, as evidenced by the brutal killing of George Floyd.... Compared to peer nations, the US spends significantly less on social services and more on public safety programs, and has astronomically higher incarceration rates. These investments in police and prison, however, don’t translate to a safer country. In fact, police in America kill more people in days than many countries do in years.... aggressive policing on the streets for petty matters can ultimately cause social disruption and lead to more crime. Policing that punishes poverty, such as hefty traffic tickets and debts, can also create conditions where crime is more likely.
  • American policing has never been a neutral institution. The first U.S. city police department was a slave patrol, and modern police forces have directed oppression and violence at Black people to enforce Jim Crow, wage the War on Drugs, and crack down on protests. When people ask for police reform, many are actually asking for this oppressive system to be dismantled and to invest in institutions, resources, and services that help communities grow and thrive... The idea of defunding...the basic premise is simple: We must cut the astronomical amount of money that our governments spend on law enforcement and give that money to more helpful services like job training, counseling, and violence-prevention programs. Each year, state and local governments spend upward of $100 billion dollars on law enforcement... police spend the most resources going after minor incidents that actually don’t threaten everyday life but do lead to mass criminalization and incarceration.
  • The Right Is Scared of the Protests. Defunding the police? Dethroning Confederate monuments? What’s next, a better tomorrow?
  • Defund the police” means reallocating or redirecting funding away from the police department to other government agencies funded by the local municipality. That’s it. It’s that simple. Defund does not mean abolish policing. And, even some who say abolish, do not necessarily mean to do away with law enforcement altogether. Rather, they want to see the rotten trees of policing chopped down and fresh roots replanted anew... Different from abolishing and starting anew, defunding police highlights fiscal responsibility, advocates for a market-driven approach to taxpayer money, and has some potential benefits that will reduce police violence and crime. Advocates... argue that shifting funding to social services that can improve things such as mental health, addiction, and homelessness is a better use of taxpayer money.
  • It works this way: 911 dispatchers filter calls they receive -- if they're violent or criminal, they're sent to police. If they're within CAHOOTS' purview...They prep what equipment they'll need, drive to the scene and go from there. The program started small, with a van Zeiss called a "junker," some passionate paraprofessionals and just enough funding to staff CAHOOTS 40 hours a week. It always paired one medic, usually a nurse or EMT, with a crisis responder trained in behavioral health. That holistic approach is core to its model... CAHOOTS workers responded to 24,000 calls in 2019 -- about 20% of total dispatches. About 150 of those required police backup... The program saves the city about $8.5 million in public safety costs every year, plus another $14 million in ambulance trips and ER costs.
  • Imagine a world without prisons. It may sound radical, but for millions of Black and brown Americans, this fantasy is urgent and necessary. Prison... has been a blight on their lives for generations... At long last, we... are seeing in stark relief the rotten root of over-policing and the unmitigated harm that has flowed for a century and a half.
    But if we’re going to get there we can’t stop at the prison walls. The aim should be to reshape our society as a whole. We are not doing nearly enough to address the root causes of poverty, addiction, homelessness, and mental-health crises. Instead, we criminalize poverty through harsh fines and debt regulation; criminalize addiction through drug laws; criminalize homelessness by conducting sweeps of people sleeping in parks; and criminalize mental illness by turning prisons into de facto psychiatric hospitals... The Black Lives Matter movement and the pandemic has taught us that we’re all in this together, opening up the opportunity to explore building a new, care-based reality... allowing people to live big, beautiful, fulfilled lives—with not a prison in sight.

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