Should cities follow LA Mayor Garcetti's lead to defund police departments?
- Eric Garcetti was elected to the Los Angeles mayoral office on March 7, 2017, and is a Democrat .
- “Defund the police” - a slogan reinvigorated amongst the anti-police brutality protests erupting nationwide - does not mean slashing all funds to police departments but enacting a substantive restructuring of public spending agendas and priorities .
- Protests erupted after the reported murder of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin on May 25, 2020. Since the murder, all four police officers involved with the assault have been arrested, charged, and await trial .
- Derek Chauvin was a Minneapolis officer with over 17 conduct complaints against him ; the Minneapolis police force is reported to have a history of disciplinary inaction against offending officers . As of June 5, 2020, Minneapolis has banned chokeholds as protests reach 11 days .
- Under the Supreme Court doctrine of qualified immunity (established in the 1982 Harlow v Fitzgerald decision), law enforcement is often protected from civil suits for violent misconduct .
- Though riot damages are still being evaluated across dozens of American cities , many innocent bystanders and protestors have been killed amidst the civil unrest [9,10].
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's decision to redistribute $250 million from 'its police budget' to 'the black community, communities of color, women and 'people who have been left behind''  is a dangerous political and societal mistake.
It is ethically wrong considering such funding is paid for by taxpayers and should remain as such for the safety of the city's citizens . While some will undoubtedly argue that the L.A. Police Department receives enough funding already, Police Chief Michel Moore explained a cut of just $150 million is likely to result in a personnel reduction .
This is significant considering recent protesting, rioting, and looting occurring nationwide absolutely demands police presence for innocent bystanders, local businesses, and protestors themselves whether they agree with the police or not.
Garcetti admitted this saying, 'I've always seen the departments, the more that they're underfunded, the worse things can happen' .
There's danger in giving in to rioters' requests. Firstly, it condones their behavior as acceptable and a measure to enact change, regardless of damage. Likewise, giving into protestor requests leads to further demands. This has been seen already as Black Lives Matter advocates have insisted that L.A. police funding be reduced 'from about 50% to 5.7%' of what it receives from the 'city's general fund' , and BLM co-founder Melina Abdullah called the recent a solution a 'minimal amount of money' .
It is also important to consider that redistributing funding like this is not the answer to racism. Combating prejudice is much more effective when it occurs on a deeper level, such as in the home, at work and school, and in the media .
First off, demanding police reform — especially as it relates to budgetary allowances — is not a new occurrence. The murder of George Floyd and the resulting protests have only amplified such concerns due to the police force's flagrant display of militarization [1,2]. It should also be noted, most individuals and groups, barring a minority of people, rallying for the defunding of police do not mean completely abolishing the police budget, but instead diverting part of the funds elsewhere.
Cities across the U.S. devote massive shares of their budgets to policing, despite proof that increased police spending does not reduce crimes and, in effect, disproportionately penalizes minority communities [3,4,5,6,7,8,9].
Why should cities continue to allocate higher funds to police if it's evident that more police spending does not positively impact law and order?
L.A. Mayor Garcetti's decision to divert police funds to minority communities reflects a wide range of literature that suggests that investing in minority neighborhoods helps reduce crime rates [10,11,12,13,14]. A more educated and healthier public that commits fewer crimes not only warrants less policing but also enables long-term socio-economic benefits for America as a whole.
Huge police budgets across the U.S. mirrors the massive defense budget the U.S. incurs. However, countries that proportionately invest less in police and more in social services have lower crime rates and higher standards of living than the U.S. [15,16,17]. Perhaps it's time to finally reflect on the militaristic nature and scale of our police force and choose to invest where the money makes a difference.