“#What does ‘defund the police’ really mean, and how would it work?”
In response, Mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday pledged to shift an unspecified amount of the NYPD’s $6 billion annual budget to “youth initiatives and social services,” saying, “Policing matters for sure, but the investments in our youth are foundational.”
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti also said last week that he would cut the city’s police budget by as much $150 million to to help fund $250 million for youth jobs, health initiatives and “peace centers” — reversing an April plan to increase spending on the LAPD by 7 percent.
And in Minneapolis — the scene of Floyd’s horrific, caught-on-camera killing on May 25 — a veto-proof majority of the City Council has vowed to go even further, with nine members vowing to dismantle and replace the city’s police department through legislation that could be introduced as early as Friday.
“It is clear that our system of policing is not keeping our communities safe,” council President Lisa Bender said during a rally Sunday.
“Our efforts at incremental reform have failed, period.”
What’s the idea behind defunding the police?
Defunding the police would reduce public spending on police departments, potentially resulting in fewer numbers of cops and more money available to spend on other services that advocates believe would lead to reductions in crime.
“It’s not just about taking away money from the police, it’s about reinvesting those dollars into black communities,” Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors told Boston’s WBUR radio.
“Communities that have been deeply divested from, communities that, some have never felt the impact of having true resources. And so we have to reconsider what we’re resourcing. I’ve been saying we have an economy of punishment over an economy of care.”
MPD150, a Minneapolis-based activist group that seeks to make the city “police free,” envisions a “long transition process” during which “we may need a small specialized class of public servants whose job it is to respond to violent crimes” but eventually “get to a place where people won’t need to rob banks.”
“Right now, cops don’t just respond to violent crimes; they make needless traffic stops, arrest petty drug users, and engage in a wide range of ‘broken windows policing’ behaviors that only serve to keep more people under the thumb of the criminal justice system,” according to the group’s website.
During Sunday night’s episode of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” the host made an impassioned plea in favor of the idea.
“Defunding the police doesn’t mean we eliminate cops and succumb to ‘The Purge,’” Oliver said, invoking the 2103 horror film in which Americans can legally commit crimes one night each year.
“Instead it’s about moving away from a narrow conception of public safety that relies on policing and punishment, and investing in a community’s actual safety net, things like stable housing, mental health services and community organization.”
Where do leading officials stand?
President Trump expressed unequivocal opposition during a meeting with police officials from across the country at the White House on Monday.
“We won’t be defunding our police. We won’t be dismantling our police, and there’s not going to be any disbanding of our police. Our police have been letting us live in peace,” he said.
Trump told a roundtable of nationwide police leaders on Monday.
Trump’s presumptive Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, also said Monday that he was opposed to defunding police, but told the “CBS Evening News,” “I support conditioning federal aid to police, based on whether or not they meet certain basic standards of decency and honorableness.”
“And, in fact, are able to demonstrate they can protect the community and everybody in the community,” he added.
Congressional Democrats introduced legislation to reform police practices on Monday following an event at which most kneeled for eight minutes and 46 seconds, echoing the amount of time that then-Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) said she could support “rebalancing some of our funding” to ensure that mental-health problems and other matters was be addressed “more directly” than sending cops to deal with them.
But during an appearance on “The View,” Sen. Kamala Harris (D-California), a potential Democratic vice-presidential candidate, refused to give co-host Meghan McCain a yes-or-no answer on the subject.
“We have confused the idea that to achieve safety, you put more cops on the street instead of understanding to achieve safe and healthy communities, you put more resources into the public education system of those communities, into affordable housing, into home ownership, into access to capital for small businesses, access to health care regardless of how much money people have,” she said.
What’s likely to happen in New York City?
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea offered support for de Blasio’s plan to move money out of the department’s budget.
“To help the kids of our city, I’m 1,000% behind shifting some funding from the police to youth programs,” the top cop tweeted early Monday.
“It’s incumbent upon all of us to dig down and do what’s needed.”
Shea also doubled down on his support later in the day, telling Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto, “I think it’s crime-fighting, it’s just crime-fighting in a better way.”
NYPD sources have suggested that officials will likely target overtime pay, and warned that it could harm investigations and other law-enforcement efforts.
“Guys are all on edge in the department because they rely on overtime,” one source said.
“This isn’t a job where you work banking hours. You can’t work eight-hour days when you are trying to solve a case.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has also said that last week’s looting amid the protests over Floyd’s killing “shook people in the city to the core.”
“You don’t need police? You don’t need police?” Cuomo said Sunday.
“That’s what happens when you don’t have effective policing.”
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