Is a majority of the voting public really ready to defund the police?
Most Americans had never heard the phrase, “defund the police,” prior to the end of May 2020, when the brutal killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis thrust the Black Lives Matter movement, and their platform of defunding the police, into the spotlight.
Before voters had a chance to unpack, “defund the police,” and determine just what such a policy would entail, the calls escalated into, “dismantle the police,” and, “disband the police.”
Quickly, “defund the police,” became, “abolish the police.”
The calls for these concessions were suddenly everywhere; written in graffiti on buildings in large cities, a condition under which a teacher’s union in California would agree to return to work in the fall.
These relatively new ideas were openly discussed in the public square. Journalists and media companies devoted plenty of digital ink to the topic. One doesn’t need to be a data scientist to know that searches for the topic “defund the police,” went up suddenly and sharply in June.
Soon, it became clear, and it remains clear, that on the left, “defund the police,” doesn’t mean the same thing to every Democrat.
The calls for reform range from redirecting funds usually reserved for police departments to fund other vital social services which have been sadly neglected during the the War or Drugs, to fully eliminating policing.
Mental health care, addiction counseling services, social work; these services have certainly been neglected in the past decades. Proposing to fund such services- in order to reduce the burden on police departments, who struggle to deal with these ongoing issues and lack adequate training to respond properly- is a great idea.
It is unfortunate that activists have termed this reasonable and modest reform proposal, “defund the police,”. That phrase may make a good sound byte on the news, or sound good chanted in a protest, or be a perfect twitter hashtag, but it sounds far more extreme than it is.
This fact is going to make it much more difficult sell. In a few short months, voters are going to be asked to decide if…