Defunding the police isn’t the right answer. It sounds good, but will work badly.
Before I proceed, know that I am for the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s right; it’s just. And I believe that law enforcement as a system and organization needs to be reformed, maybe even taken apart and restored piece by piece.
But I question the language that is being used now.
“Defund the police” has been a battle cry in the protests. And I get it. Yes, police brutality is absolutely wrong and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.
But to say we shouldn’t have police is something else entirely.
Complex problems can’t be solved with simple solutions. It’s easier to see problems than to solve them.
When I got married seeing that our marriage was screwed up was the easy part. It took years of work and conversations and working out my own junk and counseling and trust building to get our relationship to a healthier place.
If marriage is complex, race-based police brutality is even knottier. And if a broken marriage requires a multifaceted approach, what do you think this problem will require?
Or if you had some serious arteries blocked in your heart that’s a life threatening problem, but you would never tell a doctor to give you a heart transplant. That’s riskier than putting in stents, which is the typical procedure to save your life.
I could be wrong: But are we ripping out a heart by defunding our police? Is there a better way to incentivize officers to do the right thing and disincentivize racist unjust behavior? I think so.
For too long our justice system has protected officers, even the bad ones, killing blacks, using excess force.
But now the tide is changing. Justice is dawning.
Yet we still live in a world where break-ins happen. Murders happen. Carjackings, theft, assault, rape, stabbings, drug dealing, etc. do happen. What happens to those when the police get defunded?
Also, I wonder if we are equating police with slavery. Yes, does it perpetuate those power dynamics? Absolutely. That’s probably the reason the sentiment to abolish it has risen.
But as an institution, it is not inherently evil. It may be diseased, but it’s not lost. The intent of police, if it is to serve and protect everyone, is right. That means it needs to be corrected, or healed, not destroyed. It needs stents not a transplant. An amputation may even be necessary, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be killed.
There are no easy answers. I’m not saying we should not do anything radical. But we shouldn’t call for something radical without careful thought, a plan.
We want justice. We want someone to pay for the lives of all of these sons and daughters, fathers and mothers. And I pray that those who murdered George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the countless others feel justice’s swift gavel.
But, must we sacrifice law enforcement in the process?
I’m not saying that I know what a stent looks like in the heart of policing. My point is that before we rush into weighty conclusions we need to pause and think about what the consequences will be.
Because justice should not mean lawlessness.