Defund the Police?

What is your opinion on the current police force situation in the US?

  • Police departments nationally are funded appropriately as they are now. No change is needed.

  • Police departments should be slightly defunded and slightly smaller.

  • Police departments should be substantially defunded and much smaller.

  • Screw it, the police force as we know should be completely abolished.

  • Actually, the police force isn't funded enough and too small right now, and should grow.


Results are only viewable after voting.

GranTurNismo

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Since the murder of George Floyd, a growing idea amongst leftists is to defund and decrease the size of police forces across the nation. Some see this as a good start and could help decrease police brutality in the future while also decreasing crimes across the board, while others (mainly those on the right) think this idea is nonsensical and crime would only increase.

After doing my research on this topic, I have concluded that yes, defunding and downsizing police forces is in fact a good idea and absolutely imperative.

First of all, let's talk about how police departments are funded. As we know, our tax dollars pay for them; the US does not have any major privatized police forces. And as the years go on, police departments nationwide have received more and more funding (keeping up with inflation). But this shouldn't be, since both violent and nonviolent crime in the US has continued to go down for the past 25 years and shows no sign of increasing. If crime is decreasing (and the primary goal of a police force is to decrease crime), why should the police force be growing? The LAPD, the second largest police force in the US, has a budget of nearly eleven billion dollars a year (6.5 billion is discretionary spending, the rest goes to healthcare/pensions). And what is all this money being spent on? Unfortunately, it does not go to actual solutions to decrease the crime rate. The two largest sectors this money goes to are officer pay, and weaponry. It is frequent for LAPD officers to make over $100,000 a year, sometimes as much as $135,000 a year. Here in NJ, where the COL is significantly lower than Los Angeles, both urban and suburban cops still make in excess of $100,000 annually. Many cops are simply overpaid. A job which requires just a high school diploma and six months of training is not worthy of a six-figure salary. As a progressive, I'm all for higher wages for working and middle class jobs, but cops are the rare exception. Secondly, a great deal of the discretionary spending is spent on military-grade weapons, bought directly from the US military (these weapons are either obsolete or just not used enough for the military to keep). But the cops are civilians, not military, so why should they be armed with military-grade firearms, which they were never even trained to use? Furthermore, the sheer amount of cops that urban police departments have has been increasing, which again seems wrong since crime is on the decrease.

So, what's the solution? LAPD and other urban police departments (most of which have budgets in the multi-billions) should have massive budget cuts (in the billions) and mass layoffs (in the thousands). Obviously, having a police force is necessary for the safety of a municipality, but having this many is unnecessary. In my opinion, many cops deal with situations that would be handled better without a cop. Of course, murders, rapes, and the most heinous of crimes need police, as well as roadways to prevent dangerous drivers. But most situations would be better dealt with by a social worker or other mental health professional who actually has training on how deal with people acting out. First of all, drugs should be decriminalized. Yeah, how about we stop locking people up for possession, shall we? If people don't get punished over drugs, one of the most common "crimes", it's self-evident that less cops are needed. There should be zero crime for possession of marijuana in all 50 states. And for schedule 1 and 2 substances like heroin, meth, crack, suboxone, etc, those found in possession would not go to jail, but instead straight to detox and then rehab. Some of the millions and billions of dollars saved from defunding police departments and prisons would instead go to programmes which actually help get people off drugs. Not only is the entire concept of jailing people for drugs a fallacy (since its a victimless crime), the 80% and above recidivism rate for drug crimes goes to show jailing people over possession is fundamentally not working. Other scenarios, for example, a homeless schizophrenic lashes out at people on the street, or a couple has a domestic quarrel, or a person is high or drunk in public beyond coherence, would be dealt with these mental health workers and they would use de-escalation techniques and if necessary, transport these people to treatment, rather than punishment. Let's face it, it's frequent that cops escalate tensions, not de-escalate them. People with actual degrees in healthcare/psychology would know how to take a more calming approach. And again, these are "crimes" which have high recidivism rates, and jails simply are not effective systems for dissuading petty crimes. And furthermore, I've not found one statistic which highlights an increase in crimes as a result of a downsized police force. So this worry that less cops would only increase crime is not backed up by anything empirical.

So yeah, it's time we defund and downsize the police in this country. And I say this as someone who has many cops in their family. We need to focus on a more compassionate solution, one which actually does decrease crime.
 

Dotini

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In my family there are 3 generations law and law enforcement professionals. I have seen brutality up close and personal. It exists. In my town, the police are controlled by the mayor, city council, and by the federal government through court enforced reform of their tactics. The city council by overwhelming majority wants to defund the police by cutting their budget 50%. The mayor at this moment says further reform is needed, but not by a 50% budget cut.
 
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GranTurNismo

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In my family there are 3 generations law and law enforcement professionals. I have seen brutality up close and personal. It exists. In my town, the police are controlled by the major, city council, and by the federal government through court enforced reform of their tactics. The city council by overwhelming majority wants to defund the police by cutting their budget 50%. The mayor at this moment says further reform is needed, but not by a 50% budget cut.
Defunding the police isn't the only solution. Ending private prisons and cash bail, implementing sentencing reform, restorative justice programs, and an increase in the number mental health professionals who are better trained to deal with certain crimes. And of course, tackling the root of crime, which is poverty, lack of education, family structure, interpersonal skills, poor mental health, unemployment, etc.
 
6,805
South Africa
South Africa
...I admit that I have no indepth knowledge in this matter but will try to articulate my thoughts to the best of my abilities.

1. Decreasing the police force's size doesn't sound like a good idea. Rather than defunding or decreasing, how about re-routing that to better train/educate the cops? That sounds more logical to me. In this day and age where more and more jobs are being lost to automation, you want more jobs to be cut? Sure, this and that aren't the same, but I can't help but feel that way.

2. Crime rate decreasing shouldn't mean a proportional decrease in the police force. I say that because the first thing popping up in my head is that the crime's down because of the more visible police presence. Take that away, and more crimes of opportunity should occur. That's an anecdotal opinion, though and not informed by any research.

Perhaps unrelated, but this talk of defunding the police gives me flashbacks to Robocop movies. I wonder why.
 

GranTurNismo

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...I admit that I have no indepth knowledge in this matter but will try to articulate my thoughts to the best of my abilities.

1. Decreasing the police force's size doesn't sound like a good idea. Rather than defunding or decreasing, how about re-routing that to better train/educate the cops? That sounds more logical to me. In this day and age where more and more jobs are being lost to automation, you want more jobs to be cut? Sure, this and that aren't the same, but I can't help but feel that way.

2. Crime rate decreasing shouldn't mean a proportional decrease in the police force. I say that because the first thing popping up in my head is that the crime's down because of the more visible police presence. Take that away, and more crimes of opportunity should occur. That's an anecdotal opinion, though and not informed by any research.

Perhaps unrelated, but this talk of defunding the police gives me flashbacks to Robocop movies. I wonder why.
A main reason for the rise in both nonviolent and violent crime in the 1980s and 1990s was due to the crack epidemic. Crack becoming less valuable and less prevalent across the nation, as well as a steady drop in alcohol consumption, has been cited as reasons for plummeting crime. Less crack also means less of a need for large gangs; gang violence, as well as the amount of people in gangs, have gone down. Furthermore, the expansion for the medication necessary to manage disorders like bipolar, ADHD, ODD, and clinical depression could also be a cause, since these pharmaceuticals are designed to limit the behaviors which could cause a mentally ill person to commit a crime.

The fact that downsizing the police force could increase unemployment is not the best argument against it. Throughout history, jobs which were deemed obsolete were cut, not hung on to just to prevent unemployment, which would limit progress. Coal miners, for example; the US has far less miners today than it did in the 1960s, simply because better and more sustainable alternatives to coal were found. The same could be said about the police force.
 
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UKMikey

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It sounds like it would make a catchy title for a hip hop single. Just change the "the" to "tha" and you're all set.

Also Dunkin' Donuts and Krispy Kreme would go out of business.
 
6,805
South Africa
South Africa
A main reason for the rise in both nonviolent and violent crime in the 1980s and 1990s was due to the crack epidemic. Crack becoming less valuable and less prevalent across the nation, as well as a steady drop in alcohol consumption, has been cited as reasons for plummeting crime. Less crack also means less of a need for large gangs; gang violence, as well as the amount of people in gangs, have gone down. Furthermore, the expansion for the medication necessary to manage disorders like bipolar, ADHD, ODD, and clinical depression could also be a cause, since these pharmaceuticals are designed to limit the behaviors which could cause a mentally ill person to commit a crime.

The fact that downsizing the police force could increase unemployment is not the best argument against it. Throughout history, jobs which were deemed obsolete were cut, not hung on to just to prevent unemployment, which would limit progress. Coal miners, for example; the US has far less miners today than it did in the 1960s, simply because better and more sustainable alternatives to coal were found. The same could be said about the police force.

...As I said, I don't have an indepth knowledge into the matter. I'm simply putting out what came to my mind initially. I know the "unemployment" angle isn't the best one to take, but the examples you gave out doesn't seem 100% applicable to the police officers, either. Unlike coal, for instance, you can't find a "better" alternative to enforce law than a publicly-funded police force unless you're talking about a private law enforcement like the ones seen in Robocop movies.

As for crack pandemic, here in South Africa we have/had a similar problem with a drug called "tik". Killed a lot of people and crime statistic went through the roof. The government responded with an even stronger police force and brought the mess down to a manageable level. I suspect that's what happened in the USA, as well. Of course, just an assumption.

The crime here is still pretty bad overall, though.
 
2,235
Norway
Norway
Defund the police? Quite the opposite. Bring large resources into giving police officers longer and better education. We need more educated, more professional police with more understanding of psychology and psychiatric factors. That costs money but that's money well spent.

Quality over quantity.

Furthermore, the expansion for the medication necessary to manage disorders like [...] ADHD [...] since these pharmaceuticals are designed to limit the behaviors which could cause a mentally ill person to commit a crime.

Seriously?
 
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Submerged

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For me, it just seems that the US Police force have an education, training and culture issue.

That shouldn't mean that the police force gets defunded. It should mean that the police themselves are instead having to be open and have justification for most things it does, rather than being hidden under the rug whenever they like (or so it seems).

Once education, training and cultural changes takes place, then the situation will change for the better
 

GranTurNismo

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Seriously?
There's actual research to support this claim.

https://cola.unh.edu/sites/cola.unh.edu/files/research_publications/CV137J.pdf

For me, it just seems that the US Police force have an education, training and culture issue.

That shouldn't mean that the police force gets defunded. It should mean that the police themselves are instead having to be open and have justification for most things it does, rather than being hidden under the rug whenever they like (or so it seems).

Once education, training and cultural changes takes place, then the situation will change for the better
Would "better education" mean a cop would have to have a college degree in law enforcement and/or psychology to better manage situations? I thought one of the factors why many men become cops is because it's a decent paying job that requires no education. Because a six month police academy certification doesn't seem like enough training.

Police forces need culture changes and better training, not eliminating entirely.
This seems to be a common sentiment amongst those oppose defunding the police. But how would this change? I don't trust police chiefs and commissioners to voluntarily change the culture. What would culture changes and better training consist of?
 

Submerged

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"Better education" doesn't mean it just comes from the new cops. It also links into the "training" part of current and veteran cops as well. Once the police force actually has a particular standard that each and every officer of the law has to achieve and must be better than, everything else then slowly gets better in terms of how the worse person in the force would act.

Weirdly, for me in the UK, the word "cops" is only ever used for American police force. In the UK, I generally use "police" or "police officier" for a UK police force. Kind of interesting when I notice it, as for me, a "cop" is generally someone who has the American idea of the police force which is to basically be aggressive all the time, whereelse a police officer works for the community first and foremost.

Anyway, it feels like the US police force needs to change to working for the community first, so being better trained in approaching the community without handguns would be preferable and using de-escalation techniques all the time to foster more positive community feedback towards the police force.
 

Dotini

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Never mind risking ones life daily.
You lost me at defund.
Most police don't live in the communities they serve and defend, at least around here. They can't afford it! If they are not supported/backed up by the politicians, some will walk away, and walk away from serving when the community needs them most. There are times (rare), when you need hard men to do hard things.
 
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Page not found.

Would "better education" mean a cop would have to have a college degree in law enforcement and/or psychology to better manage situations? I thought one of the factors why many men become cops is because it's a decent paying job that requires no education. Because a six month police academy certification doesn't seem like enough training.

I think you quoted the wrong person? I think that was referred to me, and my comment on 'better education'? I would say yes. People do three to five years of economics to be a junior analyst for a couple of years before being awarded responsibility, or they have a master in engineering and x amount of practice before being in charge of a larger infrastructure project where lives are at risk.

Why accept less than three years of education (atleast) for an officer of the law? It's quite a responsibility.
 

Dotini

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If/as violent riots continue to take place over the summer, I expect it will become more frequent when police officers simply abandon their positions rather than defend them. Much better to allow a building - even a precinct police station - to burn than be injured in a lost cause. The police in Seattle, and probably elsewhere, are systemically being denied traditional riot control tools. Their morale is not the best at the moment. They receive no support from the people, no support from the city council, and little enough support from the mayor. We have a black female Chief of Police and the Federal courts looking over every single action they take. The protestors and the rioters pretty much have an open invitation to do whatever they want. Tonight may be interesting.

But don't get me wrong. Many police are walking time-bombs, veterans from Iraq or Afghanistan with lingering issues. I've seen them get ballistic over the most minor of problems.
 

UKMikey

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Weirdly, for me in the UK, the word "cops" is only ever used for American police force. In the UK, I generally use "police" or "police officier" for a UK police force. Kind of interesting when I notice it, as for me, a "cop" is generally someone who has the American idea of the police force which is to basically be aggressive all the time, whereelse a police officer works for the community first and foremost.

We do call them coppers over here, though, without any US stigma attached.

I'm not sure our police are overfunded in the UK. As I understand it from friends whose son was a special constable years of Theresa May as Home Secretary consistently reduced funding for law enforcement.

When I did jury service last year we had to let a couple of wrong 'uns off because the police made-case against them was leaky and full of holes, presumably due to underresourcing. In both cases they appeared to have broken into people's homes to commit burglary but the evidence was fifty-fifty at best.
 
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Liquid

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I'm not sure our police are overfunded in the UK. As I understand it from friends whose son was a special constable years of Theresa May as Home Secretary consistently reduced funding for law enforcement.

Police budgets and numbers have been slashed islandwide over the last decade. There are 20,000 fewer officers now than in 2010.

[Culture change and better training] seems to be a common sentiment amongst those oppose defunding the police. But how would this change? I don't trust police chiefs and commissioners to voluntarily change the culture. What would culture changes and better training consist of?

I do take an interest in police forces and how they work but I'm not even going to pretend to know how it would be done. Nobody is under the illusion that it is going to be quick, easy and not resisted from within. It just feels like a glaringly obvious thing that needs to be corrected though.

I find it ironic that some people are championing the military or militarised (i.e. an incorrect euphamism for "disciplined") police forces when militarisation of the police is exactly what has led to thick jarheads with a 10 clip in their pocket swatting around like they're acting out a Call of Duty fantasy.

Edit: I don't feel qualified enough on the issue to answer the poll.
 
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Joey D

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Defund a government-backed organization?

*Heavy libertarian breathing*

But yes, I do support the police having less funding and not just because I'm a bleeding heart libertarian either. Many departments clearly have way too high of a budget if they can afford to buy countless military spec gizmos and weapons for their entire force. This contributes to my bigger problem with the police and that's their militarization. I don't think the average cop needs more than a sidearm, a taser, and some pepper spray. They don't need an AR-15 (or similar) because what is that going to do? The force also doesn't need APCs that they roll around with either or thick body armor to control peaceful protests. Yes, I think large cities should have some sort of small SWAT team that has access to more powerful equipment, but that squad should be highly trained and small.

Police academies should also vastly change their training. It shouldn't be easy to become an officer, it should be difficult and officers should have to keep up on their shooting proficiency and physical fitness. I can't tell you how many overweight cops I see that in no way could chase a suspect if they needed too. I feel like these are the types of cops that would pull their weapons and shoot just to avoid a lengthy chase through the streets. Also, if they do get into a scuffle, the likelihood of them feeling threatened is much high because they just don't have the physical ability to fight back.
 
39,080
Education? Like, to learn how to use the newest guns they bought from the Army? Because that's about the only thing giving any major police department even more money will be used for.





Defund the police doesn't have to mean "completely get rid of major metropolitan police departments." It could mean as little as "when faced with a huge budget shortfall, maybe don't immediately start cutting all the social programs in order make sure all the cops can have their own M16." It could even mean "maybe not hire scores of GED-holding shmucks who can only enforce the law by pointing a gun at people, and try to work with smaller numbers of officers who actually know what they are doing."
 

Liquid

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Defund the police doesn't have to mean "completely get rid of major metropolitan police departments." It could mean as little as "when faced with a huge budget shortfall, maybe don't immediately start cutting all the social programs in order make sure all the cops can have their own M16."

Good point. I think "defund" the police is unintentionally ambiguous. Better, more efficient use of existing resources should be stressed or as you put it, "stop min-maxing your budgets like a Fallout SPECIAL and spunking it all on weapons".
 
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I think defunding the police is skipping a few steps. The police force needs to be reorganized to serve its purpose, training seems like the primary issue. Once that is done, then we try to determine the budget needed to fix things.
 

UKMikey

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Edit: I don't feel qualified enough on the issue to answer the poll.
Me either, especially as the poll refers purely to the situation in the US. I wish there was an I don't know option in the poll as only those who've voted can see the results.
 

GranTurNismo

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I'm sorry if me saying "defund the police" sounded too ambiguous for yous. By "defund the police" I mean literally cutting its funding as well as its size, I'm not saying abolish it completely.
 

Danoff

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Funding should be a product of other analysis, not a target in and of itself. It's lazy thinking to just say "slash the budget by 50%" instead of figuring out what that will do and whether it will accomplish the desired objective.

Police officers are being trained to protect themselves in a potentially dangerous situation instead of protecting the citizenry. They're being taught and trained to use weapons and force when they see a threat rather than when absolutely necessary. And this is problematic for all kinds of reasons, and ripe for abuse.

This kind of thing is the problem:

https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/12/police-gun-shooting-training-ferguson/383681/
Officers aren’t just told about the risks they face. They are shown painfully vivid, heart-wrenching dash-cam footage of officers being beaten, disarmed, or gunned down after a moment of inattention or hesitation. They are told that the primary culprit isn’t the felon on the video, it is the officer’s lack of vigilance. And as they listen to the fallen officer’s last, desperate radio calls for help, every cop in the room is thinking exactly the same thing: “I won’t ever let that happen to me.” That’s the point of the training.

More pointed lessons come in the form of hands-on exercises. One common scenario teaches officers that a suspect leaning into a car can pull out a gun and shoot at officers before they can react. Another teaches that even when an officer are pointing a gun at a suspect whose back is turned, the suspect can spin around and fire first. Yet another teaches that a knife-carrying suspect standing 20 feet away can run up to an officer and start stabbing before the officer can get their gun out of the holster. There are countless variations, but the lessons are the same: Hesitation can be fatal. So officers are trained to shoot before a threat is fully realized, to not wait until the last minute because the last minute may be too late.

It's not that police aren't being trained enough, they're being trained in exactly the wrong way. They're being trained to cover their ass instead of laying it on the line. And that's leading to innocent people getting shot and beaten, and it lends excuses for excessive force by bullies and assholes on the force.

Their training is counterproductive, and their firearms and equipment is excessive for what they should be asked to do. Also the use of SWAT is way to frequent, for too many situations.

Also, we need to be prosecuting and firing police officers that fail or refuse to protect citizens.

Maybe if those things happened, pay would have to go up because the job is more hazardous. If that's the case, it's at least something to discuss.
 

Daniel

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Defund a government-backed organization?

*Heavy libertarian breathing*
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