Please stop saying “defund the police”

What we’re really talking about is a shift in social policy and realignment of resources

Can we please stop using the phrase ‘defund the police’?

In the first place, it is not going to happen. Police will always be a necessary element of civil society.

More importantly, though, it is not what any serious people are really asking for, is divisive (probably by intention) and gets in the way of having the important discussion we need to have about reforming social policy and the justice system.

It has been the experience of Canada and many other countries that more police and jails and getting “tough on crime” do not address the underlying causes of crime and therefore is not effective.

What is really at issue here, is examining the role of police and where perhaps more appropriate resources might be brought to bear.

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Many of the calls police respond to do not require an armed officer or a trained criminal investigator. And those calls for service go to police simply because they are the only readily available service to call.

So when serious people talk about the issue, they are really talking about a shift in policy and a realignment of resources.

We don’t have all the answers, but as a society we should be looking at mental health and substance abuse, poverty reduction and social resources that can be as responsive as police.


A force for good

Of course, making those other resources that readily available will take a serious financial commitment, one that needs to be made before we start actually redistributing police funding.

Until those other resources are in place and functioning in a way that relieves police of the burden of non-criminal calls for service, defunding police is neither practical nor wise.

If we actually have the political will to accomplish this, as other organizations take up the slack from police, there will correspondingly be a reduction in the number of police officers required and redistribution of funding.

What we’re talking about here is a major paradigm shift. It is generational change.

To jump on the defunding bandwagon before that change takes place, is putting the cart before the horse.


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