Tag Archives: defund the police

Replace ‘defund’ with ‘reform’ the police

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I didn’t come up with this theory, but I am going to endorse it.

It goes like this: Democrats didn’t do as well on down-ballot races during the 2020 election because voters might have been alarmed at the slogan “defund the police” that many progressive candidates appeared to support.

Republicans chipped away at Democrats’ majority in the U.S. House and they well might maintain their slim majority in the U.S. Senate if Democrats fail to capture two seats in the Georgia runoff election set for next month.

What was the trigger? Protests erupted around the nation after the hideous death of George Floyd by Minneapolis cops. One of them is charged with murder in Floyd’s death. The protests declared it was time to “defund the police” in communities around the nation.

I am quite unsettled by that notion. I realize now that “defunding” police departments really didn’t mean disbanding municipal or county police agencies. Efforts took root in many cities to re-allocate police money to community services.

I am much more comfortable with the idea that we need to “reform” police practices in many communities, make the cops more sensitive to how others perceive them when they arrest minority residents and how they treat them once they are in custody.

Former President Barack Obama, who has re-entered the political arena with his full-throated support of President-elect Biden, spoke to this police issue the other day. He expressed concern about the “defund” slogan and whether too many Americans took it literally.

Communities need police protection the way they need fire protection, or water service, or having their garbage picked up. I am unaware of any serious American who favors lawlessness on our streets.

Am I frightened by the conduct of officers who react as those cops did in Minneapolis when George Floyd was killed seemingly because he was a black man who committed a misdemeanor offense? Absolutely, I am! I also am frightened by other reports in other communities of police officers shooting African-Americans who weren’t resisting arrest, or were running away from officers.

Defunding police departments, though, is not the answer … even in the form it is actually taking. We should change the discussion topic to “reform the police,” which is where I hope President Biden can take this discussion as we move it forward.

Abbott wants to take over Austin PD?

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott seems to have been taken in by Donald Trump’s penchant for authoritarian rule.

Abbott is considering whether to send in the Department of Public Safety to take over police duties from the Austin Police Department. What prompted this bit of heavy-handedness? The Austin City Council has voted to take a good bit of money away from Austin PD, which has enraged Abbott to the point of seeking permission to send in the state cops to do the city cops’ work.

This would be a serious overreach from the governor’s office into city hall’s purview.

Abbott, of course, cannot do this all by himself. He needs the Legislature to step in. How does he do that? Does he call a special legislative session, which would cost the state even more money it doesn’t have in the wake of the COVID crisis?

According to the Texas Tribune: “This proposal for the state to takeover the Austin Police Department is one strategy I’m looking at,” Abbott tweeted. “We can’t let Austin’s defunding & disrespect for law enforcement to endanger the public & invite chaos like in Portland and Seattle.”

I want to be clear on this point: I disagree with the city’s decision to defund its police department. I think police “reform” can occur without taking money away from departments such as the one in Austin. Thus, I am dismayed at the entire “defund the police” movement that has taken root in many communities across the nation.

I believe some police departments need a serious retooling of their procedures and policies. I mean, shooting someone in the back seven times while he is fleeing an officer suggests to me a serious breakdown in effective law enforcement. And don’t get me started on the George Floyd murder in Minneapolis.

I also disagree, though, with the governor’s reaction to what is a local funding decision. It might be that since the governor resides in Austin, given that it’s the state capital city, that he is taking the defunding issue personally. If that is the case, then he needs to get over himself.

The Texas Legislature and the governor need to allow Austin to wrestle through this issue. If the city council has made the wrong decision to defund the police department, Austin voters can take matters into their own hands.

I believe that’s what they mean when they refer to “local control.”

‘Defunding’ = ‘reform’

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.

Don’t do this, Minneapolis City Council

Talk about the Mother of Overreactions.

The Minneapolis City Council, which governs a city reeling from the death of George Floyd, the black man killed by an white police officer in an incident that has spawned an international protest movement, is considering disbanding the city police department.

Yep. Nine of 12 council members have signed on to a plan that would eliminate the police department and apparently start over. They want to build a new department from scratch, from the ground up.

Hold on here! I believe that would a monumental mistake.

Yes, George Floyd died because he was brutalized by four officers of the Minneapolis Police Department. One of them is charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter; three others face charges of complicity in the actions of the one rogue cop. I hope they are convicted and are sent to prison.

I also believe the Minneapolis Police Department needs a top-to-bottom review of its policing strategies and tactics. But … disband the department? Remove it? Wipe it out? Is this what’s on the horizon?

PDs across the nation are undergoing intense public scrutiny. There is this “defund the police” movement developing in some communities, again as an extreme overreaction to what is without a doubt a hideous example of police brutality against an African-American citizen.

I want there to be reviews done within police departments. We need to end this terrible trend of cops treating racial and ethnic minority suspects differently — and more harshly — than they treat white folks. That has to stop! Now!

Disband departments while potentially leaving communities without police protection? This crisis can be resolved without such drastic overreaction.