If you’re a liberal, what’s not to like about the slogan “Defund the police”?
It’s meaningless, it’s stupid, it’s dangerous and it makes you feel good if you mindlessly repeat it. What could go wrong?
Chicagoans are calling it “Bloody Sunday.” In one 24-hour period, 18 people were murdered in the city. That’s the highest number of murders in Chicago’s modern history. You have to go back 60 years to find a bloodier day.
From 7 p.m. Friday, May 29, through 11 p.m. Sunday, May 31, 25 people lost their lives. The orgy of murders can be tied directly to the protests against police, whose resources were stretched to nearly the breaking point to handle the violence in the streets.
“We’ve never seen anything like it, at all,” said Max Kapustin, the senior research director at the crime lab. “ … I don’t even know how to put it into context. It’s beyond anything that we’ve ever seen before.”
The next highest murder total for a single day was on Aug. 4, 1991, when 13 people were killed in Chicago, according to the crime lab.
In Chicago, the minority community has “issues” with the police. But activist priest, Father Michael Pfleger, complained bitterly about the lack of police presence.
“On Saturday and particularly Sunday, I heard people saying all over, ‘Hey, there’s no police anywhere, police ain’t doing nothing,’” Pfleger said.
“I sat and watched a store looted for over an hour,” he added. “No police came. I got in my car and drove around to some other places getting looted [and] didn’t see police anywhere.”
Pfleger and other activists apparently can’t wrap their brains around the connection between defunding the police and out-of-control crime.
But the good father and other radical activists aren’t the only ones who don’t have a solution to the problem of policing in neighborhoods where the cops are feared and hated.
“When CPD has to turn its attention elsewhere and there’s suddenly this vacuum that opens up, you also unfortunately see a picture like you saw with [last] weekend where you see an absurd amount of carnage, people getting injured and killed,” he said. “Those forces are still there.”
Kapustin said the current situation “lays bare a really nuanced understanding of the role of the police.”
“You have to sort of ask yourself: How are you going to get to a place where you have a police department that people respect and that has earned the trust of the community, but it’s still actually effective at reducing gun violence, which is the thing that plagues a lot of these neighborhoods,” Kapustin said. “And we’re so far right now from getting that figured out.”
One of the problems for policing that experts point out is that the cops have too much to do.
“One of the most common versions is centered on a belief that we give police officers too much responsibility to take on too many things,” said Loyola University law professor Stephen Rushin. “We give police officers the responsibility to respond to all different sorts of social ills, which may include criminal conduct or noncriminal conduct that could be equally handled by others.”
That may be so. But I can guarantee that if paramedics or mental health professionals are going to be sent in to defuse some of these situations with a mentally disturbed person, they are going to demand that they are armed. Then what? You have an entirely separate police force of health professionals, armed and presumably sworn to uphold the law.
There’s plenty of room for reform in police departments from the largest to the smallest. Training needs to be more comprehensive, and ongoing. There must be better, more thorough psychological evaluations of recruits and better mental health options available to active duty personnel. The cops are far from perfect and will never become so. But they can and should get better.
This is not the time in Chicago to defund the police, which would involve taking officers off the streets. In fact, calls to defund the police are little better than incoherent rants, given the lack of specifics.
Defunding, as a broad concept, does not address how much of a budget or where in a budget officials would make cuts
“This is where the devil is in the details,” Rushin said.
Black Lives Matter Chicago has called for the “immediate disinvestment in CPD,” according to its website. The group also opposes the proposed $95 million new police academy.
The great thing about being an activist is that you never have to offer solutions or specifics, just mindlessly continue to parrot slogans that are meaningless. “Defund the police” is a lunatic’s response to both police imperfections and community distress.