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DeFund the Police: And Why It Matters to Blue Lives

There is a movement afoot to Defund the police and there is reason to believe such a reimagining of policing can make blue lives easier.

Policing a free society is the hardest job in the world, and few avocations require more personal responsibility than policing.

Don’t laugh. Notwithstanding the correct and righteous concerns of communities of color, allow me to explain the awesome responsibility police bear, but also why “Defund the Police” can work.

When you call the police, a real person answers the phone, and dispatches a real person to address your situation. That peace officer appears ready to handle any myriad of situations from neighbors who can’t agree over their property line to someone threatening to jump. At the conclusion of that officer’s work, he is required to write a report on the activity and sign it. That report is always checked by at least one set of eyes if not many, depending on the gravity of the situation.

The job of policing is to be society’s mortar when the bricks of society don’t easily fit. The police mediate in a free society full of good and bad, idiots and rejects. And that job takes its toll. You do not want to know the kind of person it takes to absorb society’s darkness and not suffer mental problems.

There is a dead black man on the street: That much is obvious. But nobody asks if the police officer is alright. Odds are that officer is not. He did not start his shift intending to kill. Police officers can become unsafe because the responsibilities of the job are endless. Every move they make and every action they take is bound up in sometimes byzantine law or regulation. Have YOU ever snapped? Lost your temper? Made a mistake? Did something you regret?

Why did you do that?

Everyone accepts WHAT they see in that terrible video, but they seldom ask WHY they are seeing it.

I assert that the job of policing is often brutal and begets brutality. The world view of the police officer can get to be a very, very dark place. Police officers sometimes crack. Many contemplate suicide. Some actually pull the trigger. But you don’t get to see those videos. God forbid if you meet an unsafe officer on YOUR worst day.

What to do? How do we justly satisfy the needs of a society and also protect those who provide safety?

Defund the Police, on the surface, means taking money from police departments. And a substantial portion of a police department’s function is to ensure ever more funding from year to year. The command structure may be more in tune with budgeting and funding than they are with actual police work. So, when you say “Defund the Police,” people in charge get nervous.

Your average patrolman is probably fond of saying they are tired of being your social worker. That’s true. A patrol officer’s motto may as well be, “Let me fix in 15 minutes a situation it took you years to create.”



Central Park Karen is calling the police and lying about a situation. Citizen x calls the police because her irresponsible daughter is sending and receiving hurtful text messages. Family y has an abusive mother, an alcoholic father and the kids are acting out. Well. You get the picture.

Would it surprise you that, in a world of hurt, some people don’t take responsibility for their own actions?

Would it surprise you that, in a world of hurt, police might despise the people they are sworn to serve?

What is the condition of mental health care in our society? In many places, the only mental health response is jail and jail isn’t built for it. Real mental health care is very expensive. Your provider doesn’t cover that.

The typical police officer is to some degree conservative. Not always (though most often) in the political sense, but in the social sense of believing in a status quo and supporting that status quo. You might read that as protecting the haves from the have-nots.

The typical police officer has some kind of military background. Those who serve their country in the armed services are especially suited to some kinds of police training, which is often based on a para-military model. Those candidates often receive extra credit in the selection process due to their military credentials.

This has a two-fold effect: 1. You are sending “warriors” to a residence where an alarm is going off. You are sending someone who has been trained to kill to an argument between two neighbors who can’t get out of each other’s way. 2. By favoring warriors in the selection process, you are disincentivising candidates with other skill sets that might also be useful. MAYBE a special snowflake is EXACTLY the right person to respond.

And when you are dealing with nothing but soldiers, your command structures are soldiers and your decision making is based on models of conflict resolution suited more to Fallujah than Los Angeles.

The other thing you have to consider is that all police training is not the same. Some departments require a candidate to live at a training center for six months, studying law, the constitution, where their powers come from, use of force continuums and the like. Some cadets graduate from a six weekend course.

Most of the horrible videos that I see are blatant violations of proper police training. There ought to be a federal standard, very high, to become a police officer. And there ought to be more college education requirements to be a police officer. If a candidate gets out of the U.S. Marines and gets preferred selection, so be it, but he should also be required to go to college as well. Learn something else besides war.

The solution might be, if you’re going to require that kind of public servant, you might want to have a diverse kind of police department. Not just patrolmen and detectives. But another kind of officer who is skilled in conflict mediation, in mental health crises.