Police departments across the country are under a microscope right now. Private citizens have been filming encounters with law enforcement for decades and now we’re pretty much fed up.
“Defund the Police” has become a rallying cry for protesters but what exactly does that mean? And is that the best solution to police violence?
Different — but sometimes overlapping — proposals for how to address this violence have emerged, from reforming to defunding to dismantling to abolishing the police.
Police reform has often been the mainstream call in the wake of protests against police brutality. Reform, a long-term process that has usually involved putting more funding toward departments, now tends to call for community policing, a style that encourages officers to be assigned to specific communities and to know the residents and dynamics of the areas where they work.
But many say reform doesn’t work, arguing that departments like Minneapolis’ (Minnesota) have already undergone reform and police violence still happens.
Instead, activists, organizers, scholars and city residents are furthering the call, demanding that they be defunded, often under a “divest/invest” model.
Those calling for defunding see the departments’ budgets as bloated and misappropriated when other crucial city services have to beg for scraps.
After disbanding its force in 2012, Camden created what city leaders say was a different kind of force, focused on community policing, but the city still very much has a police department.
Sometimes departments disband when municipalities go bankrupt or when cities decide they don’t want to pay for their own police and contract to hire neighbors’ forces, instead.
Abolition is an often misunderstood framework to reimagine how society responds to harm. For some, defunding the means just reducing their budgets, but for others it means taking a step toward abolition.
Those who call for abolition want to see an end to policing long term while still addressing community needs.
This post is for information purposes.