Defund the Police

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Sounds a little harsh to some, a little scary to others, a dramatic overreaction to a few more. It shouldn’t really sound any of those things. It should, once we stop and think about it, sound like a really good idea on some level to just about everyone.

By which you should take it that I’m in favour of the idea.

White middle-class guy approaching 50 is in favour of defunding the police. Somebody out there is just full of assumptions now but stay with my logic chain for a second.

Eighty percent of the calls police respond to have nothing to do with crime. 80%. And dealing with crime is the basic function of the police, right? Not mental health issues, not homelessness, not community outreach, not transit fare checks, not drug overdoses, not a whole bunch of the stuff they deal with on a daily basis.

For whatever reason (and the reasons are legion), it’s become easier as a society to make something illegal or even criminalize it so that it can be dumped on the backs of the police force. We’ve designed things so that the toolbox basically only has one tool and then we’re surprised when things escalate.

Violent crime rates have been generally on the decline since about 1990 or a little before. While we’ve seen a tiny spike in the last few years, we’re still at levels matching up with about 1970. In my eyes, that says that violent crime is at its lowest level in my lifetime.

So do we need the level of policing we’ve got right now with the militarization of police forces across North America?

Wait, I’m not finished yet.

What if we also got rid of the 80% of stuff that police shouldn’t be having to deal with and either develop or pass it to agencies that it’s their job, and then adequately funded those agencies? What if we actually looked at solving social problems that contribute to public safety like education, social services, housing issues, health issues, youth services? What if we actually funded our communities?

Would we still need the same level of policing?

Defunding is a scary word. I get that. Various governments make it their mission to fix things like education and health care and infrastructure by doing things like “finding efficiencies” and “controlling spending”. Those are nicer ways to say “defund” and with not so good results most of the time.

Something to think about.

Stay safe and be well, everyone.

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