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.