What a spectacle. Politicians rushing to explain that they don’t literally mean abolishing the police, while other prominent activists insist, “abolishing the police is exactly what we mean.” News flash—when you have to explain what your movement means or what it doesn’t really mean, you’ve come up with a very questionable movement. Defund the Police? The GOP and the Trump re-election campaign couldn’t have dreamed of a better development to bolster their sagging re-election prospects.
Polls at this time suggest that nearly two-thirds of America is opposed to defunding the police, or, more specifically, the defund the police movement. So, expect top-of-the-ticket and down-ticket Republican election campaigns to focus on law-and-order and the threat by the left to do away with the police.
The ghost of George McGovern must be advising some Democrats on how to win a Presidential election. The Defund the Police campaign albatros could very well make the 2020 election a re-run of 1972 when the Democrats managed to lose every state except Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. And that was after the Republicans had reigned over unprecedented demonstrations against the war in Vietnam that had taken 20,000 American lives, school busing, and Watergate.
Americans want law and order in their communities, and certainly the vast majority of Americans want racial bias, and all forms of police brutality purged from law enforcement, as do the vast majority of the men and women who work in law enforcement. To suggest that police thuggery is synonymous with law enforcement is a disservice to the men and women in law enforcement. And, politically, a campaign to throw out the baby with the bathwater is certain to fail—as it should.
The Defund the Police movement is an electoral disaster waiting to happen for the Democrats. Nearly three-quarters of the white population (according to the latest ABC-Ipsos poll) and nearly 60% of the Hispanic population and, a sizeable minority of Democrats in general (43%) are opposed to defunding the police and 41% of Democrats are even opposed to directing money allocated to police departments to be directed for other community purposes. Of the nearly 800,000 policemen and policewomen in the United States, about 100,000 are black (13.1%), slightly more than the percent of black Americans to the total population.
Dozens of police officers are killed (shot) in the line of duty every year. In 2018, the last year for which I could find data, forty-eight police officers were shot and killed in the line of duty. Three of them were female officers, forty were white, seven were black and one was Asian. It is, of course, stressful work. Consider this, police work is made infinitely more difficult and police lives are in greater danger when a police officer, anywhere, is involved in an unjustifiable taking of a life. No one dreads a news report of unnecessary or lethal use of force more than a police officer, because they are the men and women who will have to face an angry population. Their work is made infinitely harder and more dangerous whenever there is an unjustified taking of a life or unjustified violence.
A growing number of major American cities have recruited black Chiefs of Police who are committed to purging miscreants from their police forces. It hasn’t been easy, but the commitment is there. These Chiefs have a myriad of issues to deal with — the real or perceived danger in the moment and, of course, real racism where a white police officer is primed to deal harshly with suspects or offenders who simply are black or Hispanic or ethnically different. Police Chiefs also know that they are often going to have to deal with the press, attorneys, and with the police union as soon as disciplinary action is taken or threatened. Rogue officers are the bane of their existence.
Last year, about 1,000 people were shot and killed by police in the line of duty, which has been a pretty constant statistic, year after year. Of those, forty-five percent were white, sixteen percent were Hispanic, twenty-three percent were black, and about five percent were women. The police officers I know, and I do know several, are intelligent, impressive, and dedicated men and women. It sometimes amazes me that they chose law enforcement for their life’s work, but I’m thankful they did.
Consider this when contemplating the defunding or the abolishment of police departments in America. There are about 1.2 million incidents of rape, robbery, aggravated assault, and murder reported in the United States (based on 2018 data). For every 100,000 people in the United States, nearly 400 will experience a violent crime. Think about that when you are asked to support a campaign to defund or abolish the police. For sure, Republican campaign strategists are thinking about that as they contemplate the 2020 elections.
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Well said. I could not agree more. Trump and company are going to run with this. I can just imagine the partisan comments this essay will provoke from the hyper partisan readers of this blog.
Was intrigued that you remembered the Democratic Convention when they nominated George McGovern. I was a delegate to that convention in Miami and walked out of the Democratic party on that date. I realized then they had lost their real value and
were controlled by a minority mob……….No not black minority but
The Democrats had the opportunity to choose a realist in
Scoop Jackson who was an outstanding Democrat Senator with a history of meaningful legislation. The Democratic party
has become the Uncivil party.
I agree that defunding the police is a terrible idea, but the institution needs overhaul, with extensive psychological evaluations given to everyone on the force and especially to new recruits, to test for bigotry toward any ethnic group and especially to weed out serving police or candidates with histories of violence or associations with hate organizations. It is the culture and protocols that need to be changed, including standards for use of force and definitions of self-defense. We need our police to understand the difference between someone who is sleeping off a drunken binge in his car, and one who poses an immediate and lethal danger to them.
Bottom line is that we need our police and we depend on them for all the reasons you mentioned – and I agree 100% –any momentum given to the “defund” movement will no doubt ensure the ongoing chaos, fear, violence and division that has been brought by the current occupant of the White House.
Some people are saying this anarchy is about slavery, including my cousin. Note the main cities involved in civil disobedience are Seattle, Minneapolis, and NYC. These Northern cities were never involved with slavery .
This is an attempt to get rid of Trump and overthrow our American government, but now turning into a pro-Trump election in November. BLM has lost focus and have no real leaders, so the death of George Floyd has turned into another civil war in America with no police or formal government. It smells like Socialism or Communism.
Outstanding analysis in all respects, Hal. Let’s hope our city governments can use the horrific George Floyd incident to make significant positive changes to their police operations.
Not to get “hyper partisan” but I genuinely wonder if the fact that the majority of our large cities have had democrat leadership for decades is relevant. Is there an inappropriate relationship between the city governments and the police unions in those locales? Does a strong police union facilitate the same level of corruption that teachers unions have been known to do?
A wayward police union protecting the “bad apples” within its ranks will prevent achieving the rational and compassionate policing we citizens deserve.
Response to Stuart Goldfine: ::sigh::
I’m more than old enough to remember clearly when the neighborhood cop walked a beat and knew everybody on the block by their first names. We knew him as a friend too, a comforting presence. He made sure our doors were locked at night and our garages closed. Granted, this was in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon in the 40’s and 50’s, not your most contentious time or place. But I can’t help thinking if we could get back to some of that, to get the police out of their prowl cars and donut shops to get to personally know the people they are assigned to serve and protect we would be in a better place here and now.
Well said Hal and I’m in total agreement, from “Seattle”.
Defund The Police is only a down payment on the idiocy of the far left anarchists. Let’s see:
Reparations for slavery
Free all black felons
Abolish the electoral college
No rental evictions for nonpayment of rent
Violent and destructive demonstrations with the stunning silence of Pelosi et al.
The forcible takeover of major cities and the tone deaf responses of the Democratic elected mayors and governors
Allowing liquor stores and abortion clinics to remain open while forcibly prohibiting religious services and arresting salon owners for wanting to work.
Democratic Governors and Democratic big city mayors callously, knowingly, and heartlessly placing covid19 patients in nursing homes resulting in many thousands of deaths
No Democratic criticism of the hateful and America loathing Congressional “gang of 4”.
Desire by Democrats to steal our elections by fraudulent ballot harvesting. Etc etc.
Thank you foolish left wing democratic anarchists for reassuring the re-election of Donald Trump
Not too many years ago most urban cities required that members of their police and fire departments be residents of the communities they were serving. One of the most important benefits of these public servants living among the populations they were serving was their knowledge of what was going on in the communities as a result of regular daily interaction with their neighbors. It gave most of them an intimate Understanding of most of those residents in their “beat” and an intuitive insight in how to defuse potential problems. Sadly this important source of information has been obliterated which leads to law enforcement solutions rather than social solutions which might be more appropriate in many cases.
Good article. I totally agree with you. Living in a big city, Los Angeles, it’s scary to think about defunding the police departments we need them.
We definitely do not want to defund the police departments. Departments need to be able to get rid of the hotheads and create a common sense approach in their curriculum. How difficult would it have been for the officer to tell the man that he was in no condition to drive a car, ask him to have someone pick him up and pick up the car the next day. Much as you would a friend.
I agree with you, this election is for the democrats to lose, and they are showing a particular aptitude for that now.