Defunding the Police

July 3, 2020

By Dale Holloway

A fairly divisive topic has surfaced in the wake of the recent Black Lives Matter protests: whether or not to defund the police. Videos of the mistreatment of many blacks, plus the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and several others have fueled the fire of the defunding plea.

Before I give my take on this, I want to make it clear that I am a supporter of the police. My brother was a police officer for several years and I might have been had I been smart enough to get a higher score on the police entrance exam. Police officers have one of the toughest jobs in America and deserve our admiration and praise.

With that being said, I must also add that there are some “bad apples” who work in law enforcement. In fact, there are bad apples in every profession, including mine: the clergy. All mistreatment of people, whether psychological, religious, sexual, or physical is wrong.

So, is defunding the answer to the problem of police abuse? If by defunding it is meant to take away all funds, which I believe the term strictly means, then I would say no. However, I think there is validity to reduced funding in most police departments.

Consider this: The 2020 budget for the Chicago Police Department is $1.76 billion. That’s “illion” with big B. But that’s peanuts compared to New York City’s $6 billion police budget, which next year will be reduced by $1 billion. Is that kind of a reduction—16.7%--realistic? I believe it may be. Why? Because much of that $1 billion will be shifted to youth and social services programming.

Imagine what could happen if police department budgets across the country were reduced by perhaps 15%. The money saved could be used to tear down old, abandoned housing areas and, in their place, the city could build well-lighted, family-friendly community parks. I believe the crime rate could be significantly reduced.

Imagine true community-based policing, where officers interact with the people in their assigned communities by shooting hoops with the kids, knocking on doors to introduce themselves, and helping someone rake their lawn or take in the groceries. The perception of police officers as militarized, untrusted enemies might be changed to that of ordinary people who truly care about me.

Reduced police funding may be painful at first, but I believe the long-term benefits far outweigh any short-term negatives and should be seriously explored by all cities.

Click this link to read about a unique police partnership model that fits in with my article.