For the last few years, there has been a big push from certain groups to defund the police. This movement is being promoted as a way to prevent police brutality and make society function better. The idea is that police don’t need to respond to every single call, and it’s actually better if they don’t. The belief is that in some situations, like ones that involve a mental health crisis, police make things worse and it’s better to have a social worker or psychotherapist respond to these calls.
Although it sounds noble to support people who are just having a mental breakdown, you can’t send a social worker into a potentially violent situation. What happens if they need to call 9-1-1 and no officers can respond?
Police are formally trained to expect the unexpected. Social workers are not. Unfortunately, there’s no way to know the extent of the situation through a 911 call. People can turn violent at any given time without warning. This is just one of many reasons defunding the police is a bad idea.
Why do people want to defund the police?
First and foremost, the movement calling to defund police is rooted in several treacherous political ideologies rather than rational, sound deliberation. Some might argue that it’s not a movement at all, but an eccentric tantrum spearheaded by people who just don’t like cops.
In an effort to combat anti-police sentiment, organizations like the National Police Association work hard to restore public trust in police and help educate the public regarding why we need officers and what they do to serve their communities. However, they’re up against a strong belief system that all cops are bad. It’s not true, but it’s what many people believe.
This belief is that defunding law enforcement will reduce police misconduct, brutality, and over-incarceration. However, reducing law enforcement budgets will only make these problems worse.
Officers are already in short supply and are stretched thin. We need to spend more on police, not less, to solve these problems. Placing more officers on duty in the field will result in fewer crimes. Response times will be faster and their presence will be known. If we defund the police, the communities that have been impacted the most by violent crime will only be hurt worse.
More cops equal less crime
Violent crime is on the rise in many major cities, like Portland, Minneapolis, and Chicago. In many cities, police won’t even respond to crimes like assaults and burglaries because they are understaffed. In some unincorporated areas, police are instructed not to enforce animal control complaints, so when a person gets attacked by a dangerous dog, their only recourse is a civil lawsuit. In these cases, law enforcement hasn’t been defunded, but the result is just a small taste of what would happen if their departments were to be defunded. If we spent more on law enforcement, this wouldn’t be a problem.
A 2006 article published in the Journal of Law and Economics analyzed crime data that shows “an increase in police presence of about 50 percent leads to a statistically and economically significant decrease in the level of crime on the order of 15%.” The statistics are clear. Crime rates are higher where police presence is lower.
Anti-police riots create more violence
If you’ve ever seen an anti-police demonstration either in person or on YouTube, it’s easy to see how violent they become. For a movement that claims to be about stopping violence, it’s amazing to see just how violent these protests get. They actually border on riots.
Part of the anti-police movement involves publishing viral videos of deadly force to prove their point. This only makes things worse. In fact, it’s been shown that when investigations into deadly force incidents are preceded by a viral video and national news coverage, they directly lead to even more homicides and felonies.
Two Harvard economists, Tanaya Devi and Roland Fryer Jr., analyzed the data concerning police misconduct investigations and found that investigations into deadly force incidents that did not go viral led to small reductions in crime and homicides. This is a positive thing. However, 100% of investigations preceded by viral videos resulted in an approximate increase of 900 homicides and 34,000 excess felonies. This indicates the anti-police movements are actually instigating more crime.
We need more police, not less
For some, defunding the police sounds like a great idea because they don’t like cops and feel like people are better off fending for themselves. The problem is, most people aren’t capable of defending themselves to that degree, and a lack of police enforcement will only encourage more crime and chaos.
Law enforcement officers serve a critical purpose in our society, and it’s not fair to discredit the entire profession based on people who abuse their power. Hiring more police officers will help, and although it may not solve the problem entirely, it’s a step in the right direction.