Forget Defunding: Couldn’t We Just Demilitarize the Police?

Dr. Munr Kazmir
5 min readNov 9, 2021

Cops are criminal justice reform advocates have the same goal: Public safety. The only way we get there is together.

Photo by Alec Favale on Unsplash.

As some of America’s most recent wars have drawn down over the past two decades, a wave of surplus military-grade equipment has reached U.S. shores.

That U.S. local and state law enforcement agencies should inherit all these perfectly good, barely-used war machines may have seemed perfectly reasonable at the time. After all, who on earth else was the U.S. military going to give them to?

Long before George Floyd, before Black Lives Matter; before Donald Trump and defund the police, people had started to notice their friendly local policeman was starting look more and more like an avatar from Call Of Duty.

When no less authority than the Wall Street Journal called it The Rise of the Warrior Cop in 2013, it looked like a demilitarization of the police was imminent.

Then, as so many zeitgeists do, the novelty wore off, the sentiment faded, and local police forces throughout the country continued to amass a stockpile of high-powered weaponry and surplus equipment apace.

The result has been a patchwork of tanks at Friday night high school football games- as a showing of a strong “police presence,”- and cops who look more like special forces soldiers dropped into a military hot zone via Black Hawk helicopter than low-paid city employees tasked with serving and protecting the community- mostly from itself.

Is there a person under there?

When the police are called, it is usually because of someone experiencing a drug crisis, or a family facing domestic violence; it’s an alcohol-fueled bar fight or a traffic accident or a robbery.

The outcome for none of those scenarios is improved by officers in full combat gear descending with automatic weapons and an armored vehicle.

Some of those issues- persistent, widespread social problems like drug addiction, homelessness, and mental illness- police officers would very much prefer not to deal with.

“Defund the police” activists have a fair point; if the U.S. improved social services aimed at those three problems in…