Defund Me…Defund Me Not!

You’ll recall the, at times, out of control, shall we say “aggressive” protesting, which too often morphed into rioting, looting, arson, business destruction, and overall damaging acts, that took place last summer, and to a less wide-spread basis, has sporadically continued.  Hostile protesting, principally in the downtown areas of Minneapolis, Portland, Seattle, and elsewhere, sometimes with the accompanying chant of “burn it down,” which was recently even voiced, but fortunately not enacted, during the Capitol disturbance in D.C.

You’ll also recall that the main theme most often voiced by the protesting crowds was the need to “defund the police.”  Along with the rest of America’s citizens, it’s constantly and erroneously claimed, that the police, in general, were “racist,” and too aggressive, making them the enemy, not the protector, of the community. So, then, went the prevalent idea, take the funding away from the police and use it instead to employ and send in teams of social workers, pastors, and other trained conflict-resolvers to deal with and settle disputes.  Basically, encourage the community to help “police” itself.  There, pretty sure that’ll work. Yes, and Mars is strictly a candy company, and not a planet!

Well, well, well. To no sane person’s surprise, cutting back on police force size and presence is not only not the answer, but when tried (and/or with to thanks to the COVID epidemic), the serious crime problem has become even worse.  In a federal government study, of 34 U.S. metropolitan areas surveyed, 2020 homicide rates went up an average of 30% (cities like New York and Chicago experienced even higher rates).

In Minneapolis, with the police department now short about 200 officers, due to departures following the George Floyd death and subsequent calls for partial defunding (which initially did happen), or dismantling the department entirely, as complaints from the community about “longer response times and increases in violent crime,” have now mounted, the City Council has recently voted, unanimously, to spend $6.4-million to replenish the department’s officer count!  They hope to be back up to full strength (674) by year end. The revised application for recruits will now ask questions such as whether they are residents of Minneapolis, the types of degrees or certifications they have (e.g., social work, psychology, etc.) reportedly “in order to help us feel confident that we are recruiting the kinds of candidates we want right from the beginning,” said the city’s deputy police chief.

Despite this unanimous current City Council effort, reportedly, three of its members, along with a group of community organizations, apparently well-funded by outside activist sources, are proposing to place a measure on the ballot this fall that would replace the police department with a public safety department.  “We have a policing system that doesn’t work for us and we need alternatives. I feel like we have lots of tools that we could try to create more community safety,” said one of the petition signers. The petition to create a “public health focused” public safety department indicated that it would include “licensed peace officers, if necessary, to fulfill the responsibilities of the department.”

You’ll note the softer, gentler term “peace” officers, to replace police officer, oh, and “if necessary.”  Given the past significant disruptions in Minneapolis regarding police presence, the wholesale departure of officers with significant funding cut-backs at the time, with those officers likely moving to less-political department situations elsewhere, and now with a petition awaiting enough signatures to put the replacement “Public Safety Department” proposal on the November ballot, there would seem to be some definite road-blocks to replacement “police” officer hiring success there. We do, however, wish the residents of Minneapolis well in their police department rebuilding effort.   As with wind and solar replacing natural gas and oil, one would suspect it will be an equally long time, if ever, before community violent crime realities actually permit police officers to be replaced by those with the word “peace” on their badges.


(Homicide rates in 2020 via, Mary Chastain, 2-2-21;  “Longer response times” complaint quote via, Valerie Edwards, 2-14-21; Minneapolis Deputy Chief quote/stats/alternative quotes via, Associated Press, 2-14-21).