The cry went out to defund the police and, as could be expected, both sides didn’t really get what was being said.
One side said cops don’t deserve all the money they get in budgets while the other side said if you defunded cops, who was going to protect your silly butt?
If you paid attention to the details, and no one ever does, the call wasn’t to do away with police departments, and other law enforcement agencies I assume, but to divert some of the money in their budgets to other departments, some which might not even exist at the moment. The reasoning is that cops are asked to do a lot of things they aren’t trained for. The Dallas chief of police said if somebody’s having mental health problems, they don’t provide any money for that, just send the police. If somebody’s addicted to drugs, not selling them, just hooked, there’s no money for addiction treatment, so send the police. He even added, there’s dogs running loose and we won’t even pay for a dog catcher. Send the police to get them. If city governments were to take some of the money meant for police departments and use it to establish mental health facilities and rehab places (and a dog catcher) cops wouldn’t constantly be in situations where the only way they know handle a situation is with force.
That’s the argument, anyway.
Another argument I heard on a talk show was why, in 2020, are cops still enforcing traffic laws? If you’re doing 52 in a 45 and you get pulled over by a large, intimidating guy dressed like he’s ready for war in Afghanistan, things might not go that well. Traffic cameras are onerous things, but at least it’s a ticket you can ignore without worrying you might make a wrong move or say the wrong thing. It was reported the budget for the New York City Police Department is more than $6 billion per year. I know New York City is huge, with lots of people, but $6 billion? What are they doing with all that money? Are the cops there that well paid? Do they buy a new fleet of cars every year?
And there has also been talk the militarization of the police needs to stop. I agree with that. The military is designed to destroy threats in a world at large basis. The police are designed to be a part of the community, to protect and serve, as it’s said.
They don’t need to be given outdated military equipment.
But, to be honest, all of these problems are pretty much limited to the big cities. You rarely see these problems in small towns and counties. I’m sure there are people who could tell you real horror stories about dealing with cops in small towns, but for the most part, it’s not there. It could be because in such areas we all know each other. It’s one thing to deal with a faceless entity in a city of two million, but it kinda gets defused when you can say, “Oh, hey, Bob. What’s going on here?”
In all the years I’ve spent covering cops and writing up what they do, I’ve noticed, when things go sideways, 99% of the time it’s the Taser that’s reached for. Guns are rarely reported to be pulled. Why isn’t it that way in the big cities? Is it training? Is it the idea it’s much harder to pull a gun on somebody you’ve known for years than somebody you’ve never seen before in your life? I once had a conversation with a policeman about how, at that time, there was a startlingly large number of very young cops with guns and power in Monroe County. Youth is well known for hot headedness and impulsive acts.
The cop said that basically all you could get as the starting pay was basically nothing and didn’t go up much as the years went on and the job is dangerous, even in a small town setting.
I said why not make it a high paying job? Make the starting pay $50,000 a year with real annual raises. And make the minimum age to be hired 22.
And make education a necessity and not just a few weeks in a police academy. I would be all for that, this particular police officer said. But you’re not gonna get the people in charge to pay for one cop more than they’re paying for two.
So, feel about it however you wish. I’ve never had any problems with cops, but I’m a white guy in a small town, so things would have to really go sideways for me to experience anything untoward. But I do like the ideas of mental health units and the elimination of traffic cops. So much of this could be avoided if we did it that way.