Why We Need To Defund The Police

Jesse Fraga/PantherNOW

Elizabeth McCann/Staff Writer


When first I read this hashtag back in June, I was alarmed. Up until then, I had supported the Black Lives Matter movement, but this, I thought, marked the moment at which I could no longer bring myself to participate in it. 

I imagined a country plagued with anarchy and lawlessness. In this system, I thought that everyone would be for themselves. 

It sounded as if people were advocating for abolishing the police—which is a whole other movement entirely. But as I looked more into the trending hashtag, I realized that this ambiguous statement does not capture the full meaning behind a powerful and necessary agenda.

Instead of turning “reallocate some funds from the police and investing in marginalized communities” into a very long hashtag, the Black Lives Matter movement decided to go for something more concise—even if it lends itself to misinterpretation.

I do not believe in disbanding the police, but I do believe that the police have too much involvement in our communities, and that certain duties should be administered by other departments that are more fit for the job. 

We have become subject to a system that over-relies on policing. According to a 2016 survey, de-escalation and crisis intervention only constituted an average of eight hours in police training. It seems more sensible that these incidents should be answered by unarmed health professionals who have more training hours in this area and can therefore better assess the situation.

In this evolved system, armed police would manage violent situations and unarmed health professionals would manage nonviolent scenarios involving substance abuse, homelessness, mental health issues or any other minor complaint or nonviolent incident. As a result, officers who lack necessary expertise in certain areas wouldn’t have to respond and there wouldn’t be misunderstandings as a result of minority communities and the general public’s distrust of the police.

Our current state of affairs has police officers spending time and resources on minor, nonviolent offenses that sometimes lead to arrests and criminalization. Often, these are conflicts that could have been de-escalated, resulting in misunderstandings and biases on both sides.

Besides limiting the police force, divesting from the police departments gives an opportunity for investment in minority communities that have been victimized by the current state of policing, as well as funding that prioritizes more affluent communities.

The funds would go towards programs and services that uplift communities in need. Specifically, more money should go to housing, education, mental health counselors, community centers and crime prevention programs.

The portion of money that once funded the police department would begin at the root of social issues in poorer communities—issues like mental health, addiction, homelessness and inadequate schooling—which are perpetuated through the current state of policing and mass incarceration.

Cities do not solely have to divest from police departments—there are other departments that could be divested from as well. Services and programs for these lower income communities are usually the bottom lowest percentage of the city budget. These are programs that can radically change the state of affairs in America for minorities by uplifting from systematic situations that keep them impoverished and bring them to their best potential.

When people have options and opportunities beyond their community, crime and violence is guaranteed to decrease, and eventually lead to less of a need for police officers.

Locally, only 0.7% of the funds go to human services like mental health aid and homeless outreach while 32% of the $800 million in Miami city funds goes to police departments. If we shift these percentages—with more going towards social services—we can begin at the root of systemic oppression.

If we informed people on the meaning behind #DefundThePolice, many more would be on board with the movement. Maybe the hashtag could change to something that better highlights investing in social services and programs to elevate minority communities. But now more than ever, it’s also time to keep an open mind and educate ourselves on the advocacy of  movements like this one.


The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

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