Thursday, August 20, 2020

Defund The Police, Alternatives

Third in a series.

Naiya Speight-Leggett, a representative of Black Youth Project 100, which is closely allied with Black Lives Matter, gave it all away recently. Saying the quiet part out loud, In June Speight-Leggett admitted of her organization's plan for the District of Columbia 

When we say "defund P.D." we mean to get the budget to zero. We are working towards an abolitionist future, where we don't have police and we don't have policing..... reform is not enough because the system itself is intended to do what it is doing now.

Less than four months earlier, The Washington Post had noted

D.C. has become safer and has seen a steady drop in violent crime over the years. Once the “murder capital” of the nation, homicides in the District hit a 20-year low in 2012. But after years of declines or plateaus, the number of homicides in the District of Columbia began a sharp climb in 2018, hitting an uncomfortable milestone last year: 166, the highest number of homicides since 2008.

Already this year, the District is on pace with that record, with 25 homicides so far this year — compared to 26 this time last year.

And earlier this week, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported

Three teenagers were among five people shot just before midnight Saturday in North Philadelphia when an outdoor gathering of more than 200 mostly young people turned chaotic as “several” men began shooting at police, authorities said. And for the second consecutive weekend in the city, shooting victim totals reached the mid-20s, according to police reports. “It’s disturbing, it’s disheartening,” Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said of the weekend’s continuation of a violent trend, which included six more shootings involving two deaths in the 4½ hours after she spoke to reporters shortly before 2 a.m. at the North Philly scene at North 10th and Brown Streets....

At least 25 people were shot last weekend, including two 11-year-olds, and six people at a playground near the Philadelphia Zoo. That brought to more than 1,130 the total number of people shot in the city this year — a 36% increase over the same span last year and an annual pace higher than any since at least 2007, The Inquirer reported. Homicides were up 31% at 259 people.

It's merely a guess but defunding police departments probably won't inspire young men to give up voluntarily their instruments of death.

Donald Trump and to a lesser extent Tucker Carlson and other Republicans attribute crime to "Democrat-run cities." Obviously, that's inaccurate; it's more often the case that GOP governors exacerbate the crime problem by their hostility toward cities, exemplified by Maryland governor Larry Hogan killing the "Red Line" light rail project in Baltimore.

Funding of police departments often could be reduced in areas with relatively few social problems, such as most affluent suburbs and rural areas. Stopping, detaining, and ticketing traffic scofflaws is far less important than addressing the violence associated with urban centers of high unemployment and poverty. While Black Lives Matter and other activists would like to eviscerate police departments everywhere, their emphasis consistently has been on those municipalities, especially cities, with large black populations.

Those frequently experience the highest crime rates, and in which well-funded police departments therefore are most crucial.  Financial resources are most likely to be constrained in those jurisdictions. They typically would from regionalization of police departments. That's a hard sell which would provoke considerable resistance in most locations but is a critically needed reform. 

Few activist groups would advocate that, however. Their emphasis is on curbing and undermining police, notwithstanding their necessity in the community. They have no interest in bolstering a department's effectiveness by improving its relationship with the community, which might impede the goal of eliminating the department altogether.

Similarly, their interest in the oft-mentioned diversion of money from law enforcement officers to social workers and/or social service agencies also is suspect. Otherwise, we'd hear more about this:

This project in Kansas City, Missouri may not be as benign or effective as it's portrayed. Local news outlets are not The New York Times or The Washington Post, nor do they engage in much investigative journalism. Most of their information comes from the agency or the company they report on.  However, embedding a social worker or, .preferably, a few in a major police department probably would improve considerably the lives of urban dwellers, especially those in the most troubled neighborhoods. It is bold, creative, and seemingly sensible, thus unlikely to attract the interest of Republicans, conservatives, or Black Lives Matters activists.


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