The average American citizen would be hard-pressed to imagine a national discussion more embroiled in rage, historical filth, and divisiveness than that of police misconduct and the lackadaisical consequences that often accompany it. Every year police departments across the nation become engulfed in controversy that ranges across nearly every imaginable abuse of power and cold-hearted crime. This often results in public outrage that ends up creating a terrifying discourse across the country amongst those who believe the police still serve and protect our communities and those who see through the mirage of protection to the corrupt inner core of that establishment.
A conversation published on the non-profit news publication “Divided We Fall,” between staff writer Joe Schuman and Boston University sociology professor Saida Grundy discussed the recent idea of defunding the police that entered this discourse in the public arena following the execution of George Floyd in 2020. In this conversation, Grundy notes a distinct shift towards nationally militarizing police forces that occurred directly after 9/11.
“DoD (Department of Defense) bought a tank for $4 million and sold it to Tuskaloosa, Alabama’s police department for $150,000. What does Tuskaloosa need with a military-grade tank? No one can tell us. So that is what some people mean by defunding policing; it’s basically demilitarizing a police force that has become militarized in the last 20-25 years.” (Grundy)
This is a good basis for the modern idea of defunding the police; departments are too heavily armed. To make matters worse, the hiring and initiation process of a police officer in America is grossly mismatched compared to the amount of authority and power they are able to wield. Officers are only required to have a GED, so formal understanding and knowledge of the laws and constitution may evade them in the dark hours of their jobs.
It is also worthwhile to note that the origins of policing in America date back to colonial America during slavery, in which slave patrole were established to capture runaway slaves as one of the first established police departments in this country. This goes to show that, like countless facets of modern American life, policing has its roots dug deep inside institutional racism and inherent biases that have been ingrained in the minds of those with power in America for hundreds of years. This alone can prove that putting aside defunding for now, the police in America are in desperate need of reform, attitude adjustment, and a more strenuous screening process for those looking to serve and protect.
A common argument against defunding the police is found within those who do not entirely understand what the idea means, taking it as the elimination of all police forces in America as they exclaim, “What will you do when you’re in danger and now you have nobody to call and save you!” Well, it is often the ignorant, wealthy, and outspoken who proclaim this fear from the mountaintop, as if we haven’t already witnessed this concept happen in minority neighborhoods that were defiled and redlined into oblivion, creating an environment that the police opt to rarely respond to. This results in organized crime and neighborhood politics defaulting to the new hierarchy of power and justice. It is, quite frankly, very amusing to me when someone who will always have the favor of the law and political power in their hands, haughts about as though removing tanks and grenade launchers from their local police department will result in them not being able to call the cops on the kids who ding-dong ditch them during Sunday dinner.
Giving police less access to the weaponry and reputation that makes it so incredibly easy for their power-trip switch to get flicked on would only provide benefits to communities across America. Officers armed with primarily non-lethal weapons and a reformed training program would certainly be less likely to escalate a situation to unreasonable heights, resulting in death, interior investigations, and the inevitable public outroar when the officer at fault is dealt a slap on the wrist and a paid vacation.
Colorado, a state whose primarily left-leaning population has been very outspoken and supportive of police reform and organizing peaceful protests in trying times has not managed to avoid disgusting behavior exemplified by its police officers. Aurora Police Department’s horrific mistreatment of Elijah McClain in 2019 was a stain upon the city’s reputation and a hugely underreported example of extreme police misconduct.
The wide availability of police brutality cases to scour through in quite literally every single state in America is pure evidence of a need for change from within in our policing systems in this country.
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