Before I explain how defunding the police will make our communities more dangerous and hurt the very citizens this initiative was created to “protect,” we must discuss what led to the recent anti-police sentiment in our country. George Floyd’s death, at the hands of police officers, brought the issues of systemic racism and criminal justice reform to the national spotlight. There is no question that what happened to Floyd was sickening and that the officers involved in Floyd’s death deserve punishment. This is an opinion held by the majority of Americans, including law enforcement officers. In fact,  84% of Americans support firing the officers who played a role in Floyd’s death and 68% of Americans agree that officer Derek Chauvin should be charged with murder for his actions. The majority of Americans also believe police reform is necessary and support measures like improved training and mandatory body cameras for new officers. Just as a line must be drawn between peaceful protestors and violent looters, though, a line must be drawn between those advocating for common sense reforms that benefit both citizens and effective cops and those who are calling to defund the police. Put simply, defunding the police will be a disaster for our country.

On social media and in the news, many are focusing entirely on the recent events that show police in a negative light. These same outlets have dedicated little, if any, attention to the monumental successes of police departments across the country. One of the greatest examples proving how necessary police are is the transformation of New York City, thanks to the NYPD’s Compstat policing strategy. This incredibly successful method has four key principles to decreasing crime: “Accurate and timely intelligence, effective tactics, rapid deployment, and relentless followup.” When Compstat was enacted in New York City, homicides decreased by 67%, burglary crimes by 53% and robberies by 54%, all while overall crime dropped in every NYPD precinct. Since the 1990s, the homicide rate is 86% lower, as 319 homicides took place in 2019 compared to more than 2000 annually during the early 1990s. Compstat policing is clearly effective.

An ineffective way to keep the community safe, on the other hand, is to have no police force. Take CHAZ, the Antifa ruled “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone,” in which police had been previously expelled from. During the last week and a half alone, a shooting which took the life of one, a sexual assault against a deaf person, an arson attack, riots, and other violent acts all took place in the CHAZ. Right after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio succumbed to political pressure and disbanded the NYPD’s plainclothes anti-crime unit, at least 17 people were hurt during 13 shootings in New York City last Saturday night. Meanwhile, homicides increased by 250% in Los Angeles

Without the police, who would respond to these situations in which people face imminent danger? One group that supports defunding the police claims, “The people who respond to crises in our community should be the people who are best-equipped to deal with those crises. Rather than strangers armed with guns, who very likely do not live in the neighborhoods they’re patrolling, we want to create space for more mental health service providers, social workers, victim/survivor advocates, religious leaders…” Aside from the fact that social workers lack the training to enter and resolve violent situations, like shootings and armed robberies, how is America supposed to afford the replacement of police officers with social workers? Social workers earn a median salary of $64,550 annually. Police Patrol Officers have a median salary of $56,600 annually. Social workers’ caseloads are already astronomically high, so more social workers would need to be hired. A possible solution to this problem would then be training the now unemployed police officers to serve as social workers, but those calling to defund the police are strongly against this idea. Therefore, it appears taxpayers would be forced to foot the bill.

In fairness, not everyone calling to defund the police hopes to eradicate the institution entirely. Some hope to redirect police budgets to investments in housing, mental health services, and education, like what happened in Los Angeles. Considering California spent $103 billion on welfare in 2015, it is clear that the extra $100 million from the police department would likely be better spent elsewhere, like on improved training for police officers or body cameras. Similarly, the popular claim that police departments consume the majority of most municipal budgets is fairly inaccurate. In 2017, only 4% of state and local governments’ expenditures went to funding police. This is compared to 22% going to public welfare and 21% to elementary and secondary education. In summary, taking funds from the police will keep necessary reforms from happening.

Nearly all of our police officers go to work each day with the intention of making our communities safer. While they do need better training and there are certainly aspects of law enforcement that need reform, defunding police departments, entirely or partially, will lead to a rise in crime. That rise in crime will affect all Americans, especially those of color. We must stand strongly against defunding the police.

Madison S