While “defund the police” makes for a catchy slogan. It doesn’t simply amount to getting rid of the police and prison system. Rather, the goal is reallocation – resources, funding, and responsibilities taken away from the police and funnelled into other initiatives that might improve public safety.It may be hard to fathom, but no matter how much policing and prisons have expanded in the last 30 years, there has been no improvement in public safety.
Campaigns do not argue that every prison should close tomorrow and every police officer be sacked the day after – they argue that social problems are better addressed through social responses.
The campaign seeks for qualified individuals only to deal with victims – detectives who will tread sensitively in cases of rape, mental health first aiders who will have the victim’s interests at the forefront, counsellor support, de-escalation experts where necessary. For example, if you’re experiencing domestic violence, you would be able to call a crisis prevention specialist who is able to meet you in a safe place or take you to one. This would involve trained urgent responders that are unarmed, mental health specialists, trauma-informed crisis prevention teams, community activists and more.
Lack of support
The situation is desperate– two-thirds of young people with diagnosed mental health conditions who try to access mental health services have to be turned away. In the meantime, the government is pushing policies to have police officers permanently stationed in schools
Less than a week ago, the government announced it was spending £2.5bn on four new prisons to incarcerate 10,000 people. The total bill for the UK criminal justice system, comprising policing, law courts and prisons in 2018-19 was £28.8bn – more than we spend on primary education, more than we spend on social care and far more than we spend on social housing or the environment.
This approach has been criticised for neglecting the needs of young people and uses criminalisation as a first resort for the social problems they face.
The Los Angeles Board of Education on Tuesday approved an immediate 35% cut to its school police force, a reduction of $25 million, in response to weeks of protests by student activists and community groups who had called for the elimination of the department. Furthermore, the chief of staff was quoted saying the remaining officers would be unarmed and barred from using pepper spray. •The money saved from the cuts is to be allocated to fund staff to specifically serve the needs of Black students and a task force that will study ways to reimagine the issue of student and campus safety.
The Portland Public Schools superintendent announced the discontinuation of the district’s SRO(school resource officers) program with the city’s Police Department. Last week the public school systems in Charlottesville, Virginia, and Denver both voted to end their SRO programs. Terminating their $300,000 and $750,000 contracts, respectively, with local police departments.