I dislike the phrase “defund the police,” which has become all the rage — pun intended, really — across the nation these days.
Individuals and groups of Americans are angry at police departments over the way many of them treat African-Americans. They contend that the cops are much rougher and tougher on black citizens than they are on white folks.
Indeed, the videos we have seen — such as the George Floyd video in Minneapolis, which has spawned so much of the anger — tell a grim tale of “systemic racism” that many folks believe runs rampant in police departments.
If “defund the police” means “reform the police,” then why not call it what it is … a move to enact fundamental reform of police departments?
I don’t believe these efforts to “defund the police” means that communities will go without police protection. Cities such as Minneapolis, though, are taking gigantic steps toward redirecting police funds to other programs intended to assist communities in need.
My hope for all this anger is to see police departments, even those that haven’t been caught up in the swirl of controversy, enact meaningful reform. By “reform,” I intend to mean that the reforms will produce dramatic improvement in community/police relationships.
Every department, given the tenor of the times and the extreme anger being expressed all across the nation, would do well in this moment to examine carefully how their officers are being trained to respond to incidents involving everyone they serve. That means black citizens, white citizens, immigrants … you name it.
Are they ensuring even-handed treatment of everyone with whom they come in contact? That is where reforming the police can begin.