SHAUN KING: How We Defund the Police Through City Budget Cuts

The North Star is a network of Black and Latinx journalists and creators that provide daily news stories and podcasts with action steps that help you get involved. We speak truth to power without fear because our stories, our voices and our lives matter. Please consider becoming a member and enjoy exclusive benefits of our ad-free platform for as little as $5 a month.

Across the country, city budgets are about to be drastically cut.

The coronavirus pandemic has and will continue to have detrimental effects, including financial ones. Millions of people have lost their jobs, and a huge percentage of these losses have proven themselves to be permanent as long-standing businesses shut down for good. The economic fallout is huge.

While this has many implications, it is clear that as incomes shrink, so will the amount of taxes people are able to pay. The massive budgets that cities are accustomed to will no longer be available, affecting departments across local governments.

We need to have a say about where this money will be drawn from, and it’s painfully obvious what that choice is.

Police departments continue to be an enormous drain on city budgets, reaching the billions in some major cities. It has been excused for decades under the false pretenses that the more police there are in a city, the less violent crimes occur. In reality, police spend next to none of their time actually responding to and investigating violent crimes.

A mere 4 percent of emergency calls police receive and respond to are violent crimes. That means 96 percent of the work police do is in no way related to violent crime. They spend the majority of their time dealing with traffic violations, incidents involving homeless people, and mental health crises: all things they are in no way properly trained or equipped to deal with.

Police are trained to shoot their guns. They bring violence to situations that really call for de-escalation. It is past time to reduce grossly inflated police budgets and build emergency response teams trained in their respective fields.

If a person is in the midst of a mental health crisis, they should receive aid from a mental health expert, not brutalized by police. If a person is experiencing homelessness, they should be given the necessary resources to help, not be arrested. While the phrase “defund the police” has been criticized by some as nothing more than a “snappy slogan,”that is about as far from the truth as it gets.

Defunding the police is a call to action.

In today’s episode of The Breakdown, Shaun brings back a previous episode that outlines exactly what it looks like to defund the police.