People Talk About How We Would Stay Safe Is Police Departments Were Defunded or Abolished in the U.S.

©Unsplash,Kevin James Shay

There’s a huge debate in America about how we move forward with the way law enforcement works in this country.

More training? Defunding the police?

And some people are even calling for police departments to be abolished altogether.

The question is, then what happens? Criminals and people who prey on the weak will still be out there and they’ll need to be dealt with. Citizens need protection. That’s just a fact of life.

Here’s what AskReddit users had to say about this divisive topic.

1. Public servants.

“The general idea is to replace just using police for every crime with specific people for specific issues.

For example, specific public servants dedicated to stuff like road safety, stopping suicide attempts, and stopping violent crimes.”

2. The nitty gritty.

“From the ones I have read that had plans (because I’m in agreement with them) it was to divvy up the resources into entirely separate departments, instead of forcing poorly trained and heavily armed cops to deal with all our society’s failures.

Someone having a mental/emotional crisis? Maybe homeless? Instead of a cop, it’s a health professional or a social worker.

Traffic accident? Traffic cop, who does not have a firearm.

Civil dispute? Again, the responder doesn’t need a gun.

Armed bank robbery? Now you get an armed responder.

Additionally, most of the resources go into prevention. Addiction centers, better shelters, better healthcare, better housing assistance, better jobs. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

3. Defund, don’t abolish.

“Defunding is not equal to abolishing. When Republicans “defunded” music and arts programs in public schools in favor of “core curriculums”, those programs didn’t disappear.

And kids still studied music and art and dance. They just had to do it with fewer resources.

Those programs were simply de-emphasized in schools where the locals couldn’t come up with the priorities to secure resources to fund them.

What’s wrong with the same approach to policing?

In areas where local citizens feel a larger police presence is warranted, let them fund that. Sure the Feds can help.

What’s STUPID tho is a default that says every community police system has to be based on a strict military model and must be armed like and structured like a standing army.

It makes “armed combat training” the default.

What the “defund” movement is arguing (at least in part) is that that traditional system has become bloated and unwieldy over time.

And perhaps by diverting resources away from over-militarization — and into community programs designed to lessen the stresses that push people into incarceration for non-violent issues like drug offenses and insignificant property crimes — you can lower the need for the weaponization of policing via the current “one size for all” approach has been failing too many Americans for WAY too long.

Armored vehicles in the streets aren’t needed except in VERY rare instances, yet that’s exactly what every state maintains.

Fed by a federal “surplus millitary procurement model” that barely fits the world we live in.

When was the last time you heard about a situation where a true millitary level response to actual violent action was required on US interior soil?

I remember first seeing the phrase “when the tool you have is a hammer, every problem starts to look like a nail.”

It might be the same thing with the millitarization of the Police.

Defunding means make sure those organizations are equipped to meet the ACTUAL missions they need to preform. Including SWAT and maybe even very limited Armor in reserve for the oddball occurrence.

But to stockpile tons of that stuff like we do now in every major, minor and sub-minor population center is a pretty piss poor way to manage resources when the biggest social stressors are actually mental illness, poverty and industrial robots taking peoples jobs away.”

4. Some people might be…

“No one is suggesting abolish the police force and replace it with nothing. Every single person calling to defund the police is also calling for using that funding in ways that better improve the safety of the community.

Why would you call the cops when someone is having a mental health crisis? The police are woefully inadequately trained for that kind of event. Take some of the funding from the cops and put into more social workers, more addiction treatment…shit, JOB INVESTMENT.

Honestly, pay cops what they’re worth. They get paid like nurses, but with a fraction of the education. A more educated police force is a more peaceful police force because they have more tools at their disposal than just the weapons on their belt. Promote a better cop instead of putting the ex-high school bully in a uniform to continue bullying people. Invest in better training for police and you’ll require fewer of them.”

5. An ultimatum.

“One thing I’ve heard people say is they don’t want the police to be abolished, just for their funding to be cut back. We need a police force but we don’t need APCs and tanks rolling down our streets. We don’t need S.W.A.T. team raid for drug offenses.

We don’t need cops with rifles if you aren’t taking on someone considered armed and dangerous. Less funding would mean less money to spend on excessive vehicles and equipment. A defunded police would make citizens less scared of their law enforcement and more open to cooperation with the officers.

Another interpretation is that it’s a negotiation tactic essentially giving police departments an ultimatum: “Give us what we want or we’ll proceed to defund you.””

6. Reform is needed.

“I am not for the abolishment of the police. I am for serious, in-depth, all encompassing REFORM, re-training and re-distribution of police to better SERVE the communities in which they are assigned.

They need to be licensed, likes doctors or lawyers.. so that if they are under review, on unpaid leave or whatever for an investigation, their license is suspended.. so they can not quit and go be re-hired elsewhere to avoid trouble. Body cams must be on at all times (if discovered off during an offense, license revoked and proper punishments ensue).

Much needs to be done to make the police responsible for their actions.”

7. An interesting take.

“What folks need to remember when talking about this issue and it’s super important…

The police/criminal justice system is NOT set up to protect the protect the public from the criminal, it’s set up to protect the criminals from the public.

Without the police/CJ system in place, soon the public would be taking justice into their own hands. There would be no Miranda Rights. There would be no guarantee of a lawyer. There would be no jail and 3 squares a day. There would be no trial with a jury of your peers. There would be no police brutality to complain about and no government body to hear the complaint anyway.

“Justice” would be delivered swiftly and the sentence would often be fatal to the criminal.”

8. Can’t happen overnight.

“Most of the comments I see here are saying that people just want reform, but that’s not really true – there is a big push for the police force to be abolished completely. Minneapolis City Council just voted to disband their police force. This is happening.

Reforming means putting more money into the police force, which is the exact opposite of what we want to do. I’m not an expert on this by any means, I’m just trying to clarify a little.

The way the police force is set up, they have to make a certain number of arrests in order to maintain funding regardless of actual crime. There’s also a deep-rooted connection between U.S. police forces and white supremacy groups. Putting more money into a system like that won’t fix it, it will make it grow.

For the most part, community-based initiatives would replace the police force. So much money goes into the police that could be put towards resources for domestic violence/sexual assault victims so that they can get away from their abusers, mental health initiatives (people with disabilities and/or mental illnesses are several times more likely to be killed by cops), etc.

Abolishing the police force can’t be done immediately. It starts with defunding and relegating duties to different initiatives/organizations/etc. Like I said, I’m not an expert on the topic, but hopefully that addresses some of the question.”

9. Less responsibility.

“I think we should be talking more about shrinking the police’s responsibilities. Theyve become our response to the problems of the world. Homelessness, mental illness, poverty, drugs.

And they have no real training, tools, or ability to change these things. Reduce their budgets and provide targeted services that can help.”

10. Abolish the structure.

“Firstly, I’m not advocating for the abolishment of police forces. That’s patently ridiculous.

What I personally believe (and I’m sure what some of the abolish crowd actually mean) is abolishing the current police structure.

Branches: county, state, federal, municipal, auxiliary, sheriffs, etc policing for one state. Jesus Christ what a shit show the police departments are in the US. Not only are the most in demand police (county or municipal) the least funded, but they also have the widest division of training standards. LAPD or NYPD are really well equipped and have big budgets for lots of cops and equipment but SFPD barely have enough scratch for new cop cars.

Consistency: Here in Australia we have state level police and the AFP (our version of the FBI). That’s it. Each state trains all the cops at the same academy and then deploys them to each part of the state with the same mission statement, the same equipment, the same pay levels, and the same training.

Budgets. Victoria polices budget is $3.7B a year and it comes from state taxes. This provides them with all their salaries, equipment, training, and so forth to get the job done and service a state with a 5m population. There is no concept of civil forfeiture just to pay the bills or buying cheap ex military gear because of federal govt incentives.

And that doesn’t mean shit goes out of date either. The oldest police car allowed to be on the road is 3 years. After that the fleets get cycled out and the police get new cars.

4. Training. Vic Pol training is 8 months at the academy, 2 months of placements, plus 12 months of PCET (probationary constable, extended training) after graduation.

In New South Wales, recruits have to obtain a university degree in policing studies.

Even the protective services officers (a Victorian version of an auxiliary officer I suppose) that patrol government buildings, landmarks or train stations have the full police academy experience prior to deployment.

5. Accountability. This is the hot button issue for US police. Officers the a blind eye to abuse, even in the presence of video recordings there seems to be an attitude of not giving a fuck (as witnessed with george Floyd) about consequences.

The investigation process needs to change. Move it to the coroner, have investigations done in parallel between ethical standards, homicide, and coroner to determine what happened.

More importantly, drum into the recruits at the academy level that killing someone in the line of duty will end up as a fucking tough ride through the courts and that it better be clean or you’ll be sitting in a cell.”

11. Imagine this…

“People don’t want to abolish the police entirely. We still need the police to deal with people that commit crimes. The idea is to defund the police and change our entire system of what policing means and is because we criminalize and police a lot of stuff we should not be criminalizing. Essentially, we want to replace the system we have now with an entirely new system.

Defund does not mean give the police a $0 budget. It means instead of giving them upwards of 60% of a city’s budget, just give them 15-20% (these numbers are just made up for the example) and use the other 45-40% to reinvest in the community in various ways.

We should invest in affordable housing instead of criminalizing homelessness. We should invest in rehabilitating and helping people escape their addictions to drugs instead of criminalizing them. We should invest heavily into education instead of funneling kids into the school-to-prison pipeline.

We should invest in addressing the ever increasing wealth gap instead of forcing people that don’t make a living wage into desperate measures. These are just a few issues that the police cannot and should not be trying to solve. We’re wasting a lot of money and other resources policing these issues.

It’s not about creating some dream world where nobody commits crimes. We’re still going to need police officers because there’s still going to be people who break the law, kill and other things.

Imagine a society where we fix our social ills instead of criminalizing them and policing them. There would be less crime, a healthy trust between citizens and law enforcement, tons of money saved to invest in the community.”

12. Overhaul it.

“Completely overhaul the system and require national guard training and subsequent requirements for duty. Those folk are way more mentally stable and better prepared than what we have right now.”

13. From the ground up.

“Yes I am advocating for the defunding of the police.

But only the current system. The system needs rebuilding, new training, new protocols, new standards. Police are necessary, yes, but they need accountability and licensing.

I want the police system to be rebuilt from the ground up with background checks, and nationwide standards.:

14. One chance.

“Police brutality and corruption needs to be dealt with swiftly: fired, arrested, indicted, convicted, incarcerated. No more protecting “bad apples.” Police need to be held to higher standards than civilians, not lower. The good cops are afraid of retaliation by the bad cops. We need to take the threat of retaliation of out the picture.

You don’t get unlimited chances, you get one chance. This isn’t your standard white collar office job where if you make a mistake it just costs your coworkers some extra paperwork time. Brutality and outright assault/battery on a civilian isn’t a “mistake.” It’s a conscious act that can end with someone seriously injured or killed. There’s no place for that in policing.”

15. Here’s the idea.

“The idea is to slowly defund police and increase funding for more social workers, but also mental health professionals, public health professionals, education, etc. In a generation you could see an end to the school to prison pipeline, which in turn changes public perception, helps keep families whole, on and on.

Police are asked to respond to a lot of issues that are better handled by other professionals. We need to demilitarize the police, but also give communities the resources they need to address some of these problems at the root.”

What do you think about this?

Tell us all about it in the comments.

Thanks in advance!