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What does defunding the police department actually mean?

When I heard that Minneapolis was going to “defund and dismantle the police department,” I was surprised. Completely shutting down the police department doesn’t feel like the solution – you still need policing.

But “defunding” doesn’t necessarily mean what I assumed. The police are called upon to respond to many situations where they are not the best solution. They respond because they’re often the only solution available – which is not a good thing. Defunding would mean shifting budget away from the police department so it can go to other programs so those programs can respond to situations they are better suited for.

Like in any budget, there’s excess and unnecessary spending. I saw it first hand in the defense industry – you spend the money or you don’t get as much next time. It’s better to waste it on a few expensive toys now than have your budget cut and need the money for something important later.

Defund the police? Here’s what that really means. [The Washington Post] – “To fix policing, we must first recognize how much we have come to over-rely on law enforcement. We turn to the police in situations where years of experience and common sense tell us that their involvement is unnecessary, and can make things worse. We ask police to take accident reports, respond to people who have overdosed and arrest, rather than cite, people who might have intentionally or not passed a counterfeit $20 bill. We call police to roust homeless people from corners and doorsteps, resolve verbal squabbles between family members and strangers alike, and arrest children for behavior that once would have been handled as a school disciplinary issue. […] Defunding and abolition probably mean something different from what you are thinking. For most proponents, “defunding the police” does not mean zeroing out budgets for public safety, and police abolition does not mean that police will disappear overnight — or perhaps ever. Defunding the police means shrinking the scope of police responsibilities and shifting most of what government does to keep us safe to entities that are better equipped to meet that need. It means investing more in mental-health care and housing, and expanding the use of community mediation and violence interruption programs.”

It Only Takes One Toxic Employee To Infect The Entire Team [My Quiet FI] – “There is a disease spreading across offices everywhere, and no, I’m not talking about COVID-19. I’m talking about the power one single toxic employee can wield. And left to their own devices, they become an office plague, infecting and destroying everything they touch. Like cancer they need to be cut out before it’s too late.

Because make no mistake about it, these people will literally kill your culture.”

A police station is no different than an office.

Last Christmas, a movie featuring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx titled Just Mercy shared the story of lawyer Bryan Stevenson’s quest to exonerate Walter McMillian. We don’t watch many movies in the theaters (three young kids!) so we didn’t catch this one but it’s a story that needs to be more widely shared.

60 Minutes covered this story in 1992 and pulled it from their archives:

UPDATE: Google made Just Mercy available for free on Youtube.

Incredible stuff.