OPINION: Police reform through defunding is not what you think

Ella McAlister, Staff Writer

On May 25, video footage was released of police officer Derek Chauvin pinning George Floyd to the ground with his knee on Floyd’s neck. This act of police brutality led to a protest in Minneapolis the very next day, marking the start of the much-needed 2020 Black Lives Matter movement. Chauvin, who was fired and arrested, is currently on trial for Floyd’s death, and Floyd has not yet received the justice he deserves. 

Protests are still going on, and little progress has been made. Activists continue to yearn for the end of police brutality, which will require some major changes in this oppressed system. One change that would be beneficial is police reform, namely defunding the police. 

The thought of defunding the police sounds more frightening than what it actually is. Some may say that it means to remove all police, which of course wouldn’t solve anything. However, the reality is that police funding would be divided up differently. According to Rashawn Ray from brookings.edu, “‘Defund the police’ means reallocating or redirecting funding away from the police department to other government agencies funded by the local municipality,” meaning that the funding would focus more on other applications that police shouldn’t have to deal with. 

Police are often left dealing with issues that they didn’t receive the proper training to handle. On thecut.com, Amanda Arnold states that, “According to some estimates, law enforcement spends 21 percent of its time responding to and transporting people with mental illnesses. Police are also frequently dispatched to deal with people experiencing homelessness, causing them to be incarcerated at a disproportionate rate,” which shows that police often aren’t qualified to respond to many situations they are expected to handle.

From what I’ve researched, most of the policing nowadays is spent on homelessness, substance abuse, mental illness, etc., leaving law enforcement feeling overwhelmed and undertrained. Therefore, having funds set aside for better housing, better rehabilitation facilities, better mental health treatments, etc. would contribute much more to society and keep the pressure of addressing so many social issues off of police. 

According to cbsnews.com, the Biden administration is not in favor of defunding, but does support “police reform measures including more oversight and training, barring use of chokeholds, and increased funds for community policing and other initiatives.” In addition, the House passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in March, paving the way for at least a small amount of justice for Floyd.