10 Things You Need To Know About Defunding The Police: What Does It Mean?

Isheka N. Harrison
Written by Isheka N. Harrison
In the wake of ongoing protests over the murder of George Floyd, activists have been rallying about defunding the police. Protesters rally Wednesday, June 3, 2020, in Phoenix, demanding the Phoenix City Council defund the Phoenix Police Department. The protest is a result of the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/Matt York)

In the wake of ongoing protests over the murder of George Floyd, activists have been rallying about defunding the police. But what exactly does it mean? Here are 10 things to know about defunding the police.

Defunding the police is not a new idea

The concept of defunding the police has been around in activist circles for years. While not a new concept, the idea is gaining steam across the country. Protestors are calling on leaders to defund the police since the rash of Black citizens being murdered by law enforcement is not slowing down.

Activists want leaders to reallocate money from police departments’ billion-dollar budgets and reinvest it in community services

Activists want to take money away from law enforcement agencies and reinvest it in ways that “prioritize housing, employment, community health, education and other vital programs, instead of police officers,” according to The Guardian.

“Why can’t we look at how it is that we reorganize our priorities, so people don’t have to be in the streets during a national pandemic?” Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza asked during an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press.

The U.S. spends $115 billion on policing

Despite the crime rate falling, the cost of policing is rising. A Bloomberg Business Week report states:

“Despite the rising dollar amounts, policing has consistently made up about 3.7% of state and local budgets since the 1970s. However, crime has been trending downward for years: Violent crime and property crime have fallen significantly since the early 1990s, according to U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics data.”

There’s evidence defunding the police can lead to less crime

There were 21,000 fewer crimes in 2014 and 2015 when the New York Police Department pulled back on “proactive policing” than there were two years later, according to a 2017 report.

Some lawmakers across the country support defunding police

In response to protests, some lawmakers have said they’ll work on cutting police budgets. For example, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said he would look to cut as much as $150 million from the police. Just two days earlier, Garcetti pushed forward a city budget to increase it by 7 percent, the Guardian reported.

A New York councilman has called for a $1 billion divestment from the New York Police Department.

In PhiladelphiaBaltimoreWashington, DC.., San Francisco and other cities, local policymakers have said they support some form of defunding or opposing police budget increases

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Some activists want police forces to be abolished completely

Some protestors are asking police departments be dissolved altogether, according to CNN. Since the police are called to protect and serve, but many Black Americans feel threatened by them, some believe the country is better off without police.

The Minneapolis City Council voted to disband its police department

The Minneapolis City Council voted on Sunday to invest in community-based public safety programs in response to activists’ call to defund the police, Forbes reported.

Council President Lisa Bender and a majority of her peers announced a plan to “end our city’s toxic relationship with the Minneapolis Police Department,” CNN reported.

“We’re here because we hear you. We are here today because George Floyd was killed by the Minneapolis Police,” Bender said. “In Minneapolis and in cities across the United States it is clear that our existing system of policing and public safety is not keeping our communities safe.”

Activists say defunding the police will decrease access to resources that hurt Black communities

Defunding the police “means that we are reducing the ability for law enforcement to have resources that harm our communities,” said Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of Black Lives Matter.

“It’s about reinvesting those dollars into Black communities, communities that have been deeply divested from,” she added in an interview.

The group MPD150 is a good resource to address questions about defunding police

Defunding police is about “strategically reallocating resources, funding, and responsibility away from police and toward community-based models of safety, support, and prevention,” according to MPD150.

Describing itself as “a people’s project evaluating policing,” MPD150 says it’s “working towards a police-free Minneapolis,” according to its website.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden says police should be reformed, not defunded

A Biden spokesman said the former vice president does not want police departments abolished, according to a Washington Post article.

“As his criminal justice proposal made clear months ago, Vice President Biden does not believe that police should be defunded,” Andrew Bates said in a statement. “He hears and shares the deep grief and frustration of those calling out for change, and is driven to ensure that justice is done and that we put a stop to this terrible pain.”