I am working on making this a resource page for understanding this complex topic. I will be adding links to helpful articles. Let's just say "no" to stupid memes!

What does "Defunding the Police" mean? There are many ideas and opinions about that. Most people agree it does NOT mean "eliminating the Police" (although a few people/groups would agree with that sentiment). It is a deliberately radical statement and concept designed to promote action and to upset people and get everyone thinking about alternatives. 

I've been involved in our local Neighbourhood Association for over a dozen years and at our Annual General Meetings we invite guest speakers. At an AGM a few years ago we had our Waterloo Regional Police Community Liaison Officer talk about crime, personal safety and his role in our community. One thing he said really resonated with me. When someone was asking about theft and problems with tenants who were using drugs he said (something like) "You know, if we could eliminate drug addiction and mental health problems, that would take care of 90% of our police workload". At the time I thought "yeah, that makes sense". Most people who steal things like your car or tv are not excited to be doing that, they need to buy drugs, or to pay for basic food or rent. Looking at it from this perspective, the police are actually the least cost efficient way of dealing with many of these problems.

Let's use an analogy with fire fighters: you have a wiring issue in your kitchen that results in your house burning down, perhaps tenants are injured and need hospital treatment, the fire department sends out two trucks and 8 people and your insurance company pays out $250K for repairs. That is a lot of resources. Think of the total public and private costs to deal with your fire. OR, you pay an electrician $400 to inspect and repair your wiring and it doesn't start a fire. Which is more efficient? Obviously, social issues are a lot more complicated and you can 'fix' someone's addiction problems one week and they reappear four months later.  Yet, in some countries "addicts" are supported through methadone (and many other) treatments and can go to work, pay taxes and generally exist in society. On the other hand, I was just reading an article in the Toronto Star about one person's death through overdosing. This is an example of someone who was incarcerated multiple times (which is expensive!) and received little or no treatment and after being released, overdosed and died. It is just plain stupid and tragic to spend all that money incarcerating someone, offer them no treatment options, and then push them back out on the street to re-offend or die. 

It is clear that the police are the last line of defence against many of society's problems but that it is not fair to expect them to solve long term and chronic issues. So one argument about "Defunding the Police" is about spending more money to treat addiction, homelessness, mental health and other issues so that we reduce the amount of break ins, property theft and other bad things we expect police to deal with. 

Defunding the police is also linked to systemic racism and a history of oppression. It it strange that we think it is "normal" to have a highly militarized group of uniformed and armed people walking, riding and biking through our communities. In fact, many folks want more of this kind of armed surveillance to occur because they believe that is the answer to making things safer!

I highly recommend everyone watch this episode on the history of Police by John Oliver. Before you comment on how we need more police, or bigger police budgets, PLEASE watch that short video. 

There is no "easy" way to simply "defund the police" and push money into social services, eliminate racism and live happily ever after. Oh yeah, get people off the street, cut out homelessness, and many other things. 

Make a free website with Yola