There Are Several Steps to Defund the Police, Here are Five

The North Star has dropped its paywall during this COVID-19 crisis so that pertinent information and analysis is available to everyone during this time. This is only possible because of the generous support of our members. We rely on these funds to pay our staff to continue to provide high-quality content. If you are able to support, we invite you to do so here.

The days of vague demands for police reform and accepting symbolic, empty gestures are over.

This new wave of the racial equity revolution has carved concrete steps towards achieving its goal. Among them defund the police. While this statement sparks controversy, once it is broken down and given literal meaning, people across party lines have found common ground in what a demilitarized America would look like.

Alex Vitale, a professor of sociology at Brooklyn College, wrote a piece for The Appeal providing actionable policy goals for the movement to defund the police. Many of them are connected under a common theme of removing responsibilities from the police force.

As of now, police are dispatched to emergency calls they are not trained nor equipped to deal with. The majority of these emergencies are nonviolent, but are easily escalated once armed officers arrive on the scene.

When people say “defund the police” they are calling for those funds to be invested back into their communities. That being said, here are the first five steps towards defunding the police.

1. Mental health professionals and social workers must be the ones to respond to mental health emergencies. According to the Treatment Advocate Center, 1 in 4 deadly police encounters involve someone experiencing a mental health crisis. Police are not equipped to deal with someone experiencing a mental health emergency.

2. Hire violence interrupters to reduce gun violence. Flooding communities already experiencing violence with police officers only works to elevate distrust and produce more violence. Violence interruption programs work to mediate conflicts before they turn deadly, something American police are not known for.

3. Create unarmed traffic patrols. Traffic stops are an excuse for police to execute unwarranted searches, and make unfounded arrests to bolster their numbers. It is also an excuse for discrimination, as people of color are stopped significantly more often than white people.

4. Allow crime labs to be controlled by civilians. State labs have direct ties with police forces and have been known to tamper with evidence in cases of police violence, as to not incriminate the officer they work so closely with. In order to achieve full transparency, these labs must work independently from police.

5. Invest in better and safe public transit. Every year American cities pay millions of dollars to civilians assaulted by transit police. Officers armed with guns do not need to ticket kids who jump subway turnstiles, or harass street performers and food vendors who are simply trying to make enough to afford a meal.

In today’s episode, Shaun breaks down the importance of these first five steps and how they will create the radical change America needs.