We are now to understand that one of the ways to solve the death of George Floyd in police custody and the systemic racism it’s apparently shone a light upon is apparently to defund the police.
I’m not sure how this works, and neither are many of its proponents.
The essential mechanism, one guesses, is punishment. Because of systemic racism, law enforcement is being sent to bed without dinner. That’ll teach ’em.
Whether there’s another mechanism by which they would get this funding back — which is really the only way this plan would work, if it had some chance of working — isn’t explained and isn’t likely, because that money’s apparently going to other liberal priorities with all due rapidity.
“The reduction of our NYPD budget and defunding a $6 billion budget, that costs us books in the hands of our children and costs us very badly needed investment in [New York City Housing Authority] and public housing,” Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — who’s calling for a $1 billion reduction in the New York Police Department’s budget and has been one of the loudest voices in the call to defund police — said during a debate last week.
.@AOC to other Elected Officals: “I’m asking you to ask yourself what are you willing to sacrifice to make sure that over-funded police departments are defunded?”
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) June 7, 2020
This is a bad enough idea that even New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, no fan of his own police department, isn’t getting behind it, although he’s making some minor tweaks to the budget in response to the pressure.
“I do not believe it’s a good idea to reduce the budget of the agency that’s here to keep us safe,” he said at a media briefing last week, according to the New York Post.
De Blasio has to be polite; he’s long ridden the tiger of progressive discontent, and to fully dismount now, at a time when the beast is especially hungry, is an unwise idea.
Republicans are under no such constraints — and, as South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott said in an appearance on Fox News Sunday, it’s “a ridiculous idea.”
“It is not an idea whose time has come. It should never come,” Scott told host Maria Bartiromo during his appearance on “Sunday Morning Futures.”
“The absolute nation requires law and order,” he said. “We need order in our streets, and the easiest way to have that is to have a strong presence of character-driven law enforcement officers.”
Former Rep. Trey Gowdy, who appeared on the show along with his fellow South Carolina Republican, said, “Defunding the police is the single dumbest idea I have ever heard.”
“Who is going to process crime scenes, arrest bad people?” Gowdy asked.
“Who is going to enforce any law, child sex abuse, homicide? Who is going to do it, if it’s not the police?”
Good question. If I need an outrageous, unworkable policy prescription explained to me, I go to CNN. Just my luck, on Monday, there was my Cliff’s Notes on the matter: “There’s a growing call to defund the police. Here’s what it means.”
The heavy lifting for CNN’s explainer came, in part, from Philip McHarris, a Yale sociology doctoral candidate who’s also lead research and policy associate at the Community Resource Hub for Safety and Accountability.
First question: Would defunding the police mean disbanding forces? According to CNN, McHarris said, “That depends on who you ask.”
“Some supporters of divestment want to reallocate some, but not all, funds away from police departments to social services. Some want to strip all police funding and dissolve departments,” the article read.
“The concept exists on a spectrum, but both interpretations center on reimagining what public safety looks like, he said.
“It also means dismantling the idea that police are ‘public stewards’ meant to protect communities. Many Black Americans and other people of color don’t feel protected by police, McHarris said.”
In short: Nobody seems to have a really good idea how this is going to work, but they have a lot of bad ones.
However, those who want to disband police departments might want to work on their arguments. As CNN reported, MPD150, a Minneapolis-based group working to abolish the police, says that “[t]he people who respond to crises in our community should be the people who are best-equipped to deal with those crises.”
“Rather than ‘strangers armed with guns,’ the organization says, first responders should be mental health providers, social workers, victim advocates and other community members in less visible roles.”
Law enforcement, in other words, would be reimagined as a series of mental health and social work interventions, which doesn’t perhaps sound ideal when dealing with armed robbery or sexual assault.
Will these victim advocates have guns and be trained in hand-to-hand struggles with violent individuals? Also, since we’ve defunded the police and spent the money elsewhere, from where will we be paying these armed victim advocates?
There are disagreements as to what real reform might look like in the wake of George Floyd’s death; Scott and Gowdy’s arguments in the segment represent reasonable summations of the positions regarding whether racial disparities exist regarding how the law is enforced.
Scott noted that he has introduced the George Floyd-Walter Scott Notification Act, a piece of legislation that would “get law enforcement agencies to report the data on the use of force that leads to death.”
This is the sensible way of addressing a problem: collecting data and finding a solution, if something indeed needs to be solved.
Rushing headlong into defunding the police is a silly idea — which is why it’s only being pushed on the fringes, both of the activist community and the political firmament.
For the record, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden told CBS News on Monday that he doesn’t support defunding the police; he supports “conditioning federal aid to police, based on whether or not they meet certain basic standards of decency and honorableness. And, in fact, are able to demonstrate that they can protect the community and everybody in the community.”
Whatever that means, but basically he’s not defunding police unless they’re dishonorable enough to defund, which fits in well enough with the awkward attempts at lukewarm dishwater-strength progressivism he’s been making ever since he realized this isn’t the Democratic Party of four years ago that he’s dealing with.
However, just because a dangerous idea from the strident progressive wing of the left gets laughed at doesn’t mean it should be laughed at. There was a time when we could trust that idiocies like this would burn themselves out with the controversies they came attached to. That time has passed.
This isn’t the disorganized progressive wing of the American polity that loosely clung around Ralph Nader at the beginning of the century, cobbling together a 2 percent protest vote for Cap’n Corvair every four years and wrecking a few Starbucks every time a World Trade Organization meeting was in town.
This is now an organized political pressure group whose members really believe, among other fatuities, that we’re safer if our police are defunded and/or disbanded.
The idea is funny. The fact it’s being proposed — and who it’s being proposed by — is deadly serious.
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