What does it mean to Defund or Demilitarize the Police? (6/12/2020)

Dear Colleagues,

“‘Defunding the police’ is not as scary (or even as radical) as it sounds, and engaging on this topic is necessary if we are going to achieve the kind of public safety we need.”*

Tonight at 6:00pm, Pillars of the Community is holding a webinar on this topic:  https://www.facebook.com/events/310735496601543/ or  http://bit.ly/DefundThePoliceWebinar

Here are some additional resources to help inform these discussions:
KPBS series regarding Racial Disparities when SD Law Enforcement Uses Force:

Part 1: https://www.kpbs.org/news/2020/jun/10/records-show-racial-disparities-when-san-diego-law/

Part 2: https://www.kpbs.org/podcasts/san-diego-news-matters/2020/jun/11/records-show-racial-disparities-when-san-diego-law/

Part 3: TBA

And finally this from the NY Times:

The ‘defund’ conundrum

Advocates for police reform are making the case that the phrase “defund the police” doesn’t mean what many people think it means. “Be not afraid,” *Christy E. Lopez, a Georgetown University law professor, wrote in The Washington Post. “‘Defunding the police’ is not as scary (or even as radical) as it sounds.

”What it actually means, these advocates say, is reducing police budgets and no longer asking officers to do many jobs that they often don’t even want to do: resolving family and school disputes, moving homeless people into shelters and so on. Instead, funding for education, health care and other social services would increase. (For more detail on the movement’s agenda, you can read this Times explainer.)

The challenge for advocates is that many people equate “defunding” with a major reduction in policing — and they don’t like that idea. Reducing police budgets is arguably the only high-profile reform idea that’s not popular:

This situation reminds me of several other political issues in the Trump era, like health care and immigration. On all of them, progressives are pushing for multiple policy changes that are popular with voters (like expanded Medicare, the end of migrant-family separation and more police accountability). These changes are typically much more popular than President Trump’s positions on the same issues.

But many progressives have also adopted one big idea in each area that is decidedly unpopular with voters: Get rid of private health insuranceAbolish ICE. Defund the police.
The combination explains much of the political response you’ve seen in recent days. Joe Biden, Cory Booker and other Democrats have distanced themselves from the phrase “defund the police,” while Trump has highlighted it. “They’re saying defund the police,” he said last week. “Defund. Think of it.”


At the same time, some Republicans have begun signaling their openness to other parts of police reform, which is a big change. John Cornyn, a conservative senator facing a tough re-election campaign in Texas, yesterday tweeted the following: “I’m dedicated to rooting out racial injustices so no other family has to experience what George Floyd’s family has. It will require bipartisan commitment across the country & listening to the voices of those who have been most affected is the first step — we must not fail to act.”


A shift: A majority of Americans (57 percent) now believe the police are more likely to use excessive force against African-Americans. In 2014, the share was only 33 percent. “In my 35 years of polling, I’ve never seen opinion shift this fast or deeply,” Frank Luntz, a Republican pollster, said.


We hope to engage more with all of you on this topic in the weeks to come.

In Solidarity,