Angry protests and property destruction is happening in Philadelphia. The story behind these actions shows why we need to "defund" the police. But what does defunding the police mean?
Defunding the police does not mean getting rid of any essential functions that the police perform. It means doing some of the functions differently or taking away functions that can be better done by others.
Currently, policing is very centralized. One entity, the police, is responsible for a plethora of different jobs. That centralization of responsibilities and roles gives the police immense power, and the immunity that has been conferred on the police makes them dangerous.
The police have become so powerful that they are no longer accountable. That is worsened by the "blue wall" thinking of police, where both cops and police unions and benevolent associations protect bad cops. I recently saw a meme. It asked, if there are six crooked cops and 1200 cops who do nothing about them, how many bad cops are there. Answer, all of them.
It makes sense to de-centralize policing and make it more bottom-up and local, putting it back in community hands, breaking it up into parts that address specific functions, taking away that power that comes from centralization .
A good place to start is family arguments and people with mental illness. That should be relegated to mental health experts. It may be that on some visits they should wear kevlar armor and bring tasers with them. But such situations should start with mental health experts. Police are shamefully inadequately trained. If there is violence or the threat of deadly violence, then police can be called in, or they can be waiting, as mental health professionals do the front-line work. If the person is psychotic, there should be mental health personnel trained to restrain and bring in agitated patients. When I was in my twenties and worked as an emergency psychiatric technician at a mental health center, too often, police would explain bruises or injuries as "he fell in the van."
On Monday, two Philadelphia cops shot and killed a man menacing them with a knife. Some would argue that a police officer has the right to defend his or herself. But in this case, the police had been called because the man, Walter Wallace, was a decompensated patient with bi-polar disorder. They'd been called several times by the family to advise them of that fact so that they would not hurt him. And yet they came totally unprepared with no training on how to deal with a mental patient and without the non-lethal tools they could have and should have had so they could deal with him, particularly tasers. So, when they were confronted with a mentally ill man wielding a knife in front of them, they did what seemed natural and necessary. They shot him many times.
The problem is, what the did was not natural or necessary. It was unnecessary and only happened because of their lack of training and being unequipped. They could have also come with the plexiglass shields used for some protests.
Fortunately, the mainstream media is actually bringing up the shortcomings of the police who did the shooting. Some of it was their fault and a lot of was the fault of the Police Department of the city of Philadelphia.
If targeted, focused defunding of the police had been enacted, along the lines I've described above, back in the summer, the Walter Wallace might be alive today, and two police officers might not be on desk duty, with the risk of losing their jobs.
Every aspect of the massive police "system" should be scrutinized to assess what can be replaced by non-police workers or organizations. It should happen very soon.
Another way to defund the police is to eliminate possession of Marijuana as a crime. Huge amounts of funding go to police departments for the bogus, racist "war against drugs." End the war. Legalize marijuana and the need for police to deal with marijuana, including unannounced drug bust raids will disappear.