Commentary: Why we shouldn’t defund the police

Protestors call for police reform after being prompted by recent events.

Justin Ha

Protestors call for police reform after being prompted by recent events.

While there have always been screams of social injustice relating to race in America, this summer those voices have been amplified tenfold. I’m sure you know why.

But when there is a large group of people from different backgrounds fighting for a single cause with emotions running high, ideas can turn radical, and it can be hard to sort through which ideas are reasonable and which have prevailed from groupthink.

This is why I believe the defund the police movement has become prevalent.

I am in favor of police reform, but blanket statements like “defund the police” are mostly baseless, and I have yet to hear any strong arguments for this cause.

First off: cops are not racist. Certain people are racist. Anyone who says something along the lines of “ACAB” or “cops are complicit to a racist system” is making a major leap in logic.

This is like saying if a teacher in Texas teaches something wrong that means all teachers are complicit because they work under the U.S. education system. The majority of teachers don’t even know that one teacher and it is insane to believe that they are culpable in any way.

It is undeniable that there are parasites in the police force that have shown their true colors in high-pressure situations. Those with major biases should be punished accordingly, but we don’t need to defund the entire system because of this sample size.

The police force isn’t a child that you slap on the wrist to stop bad behavior. There is a difference between punishment and reform.

The police force isn’t a child that you slap on the wrist to stop bad behavior. There is a difference between punishment and reform.

— Justin Ha

I believe that we need to be increasing funding to the police for increased conflict de-escalation training and eliminating racial biases.

Police officers usually train with firearms and self-defense for 110 hours, but only train in conflict de-escalation for eight. Eight hours. They are trying to teach the police how to stop high-pressure conflict in just over a school day. It is undoubtedly important to be adept with firearms and self-defense, but prevention is preferable to action. 

If we take away the funds necessary to host this extra training, we are consciously making it more likely for these things to happen again.

The police are important, despite what some people say, and regardless of their less than spotless track record, we need to support them so they can do their job properly, not give up the problem entirely.

I agree that other social services are important, but saying there is a systemic problem while simultaneously making it harder for that system to fix the problem is unproductive and solves nothing.

Statements like “defund the police” are hurtful to actual progress where we can improve the training police receive to prevent another terrible event from occurring. We should be taking steps to reform not to punish out of spite. 



Below are some frequently brought up counter-arguments in favor of defunding the police from the American Friends Service Committee in an article titled “6 Reasons Why it’s Time to Defund the Police” and my opinion on these standpoints.

-Policing in the U.S. was established to maintain white supremacy.

Regardless of original intent, the modern-day police system is meant to protect civilians, even if it fails at doing so perfectly. How will giving the police fewer resources to search for biases help stop these problems? Intent changes over time. Let’s reform the police so they can move towards a new goal instead of giving up on improvement.

-Policing doesn’t keep us safe.

Yes, people still die in America, but it is a fantasy to say that the police don’t keep us safe in some way. While I may be privileged enough to say something like that it is better to fund the police so they can better fight crime than to dismantle them and leave it to fate.

-Body cameras, training, and so-called reform measures will not end cycles of police violence.

I agree that these measures will not completely end police violence (I don’t think anyone is claiming that they would), but it is a step in the right direction. Defunding/dismantling the police would get rid of these luxuries and would only increase the chances of corruption in the police.

-Policing diverts billions of dollars from school, health care, and other vital programs that need more funding to strengthen our community and support shared well-being.

These are all important items, but if the police don’t have the proper funding these problems will continue to persist and our safety will be jeopardized. Firefighters take away from funding, but they are necessary for keeping the public safe. Same with police.

-Black organizers are calling for divestment from policing and investment in human needs across the country.

Once again, defunding the police will make it harder for long term reform to occur. If you want the policing system to improve don’t remove opportunities for improvement.

-Our tax dollars should be invested in more humane and just alternatives to policing.

Policing is the best way to fight crime. While it isn’t always executed well, I don’t believe there is a better way to do the job police do. Investing in other protection options just makes it harder for the police to do their job. They aren’t perfect because policing is one of the hardest jobs to do. This idea that we could replace the police with a “peaceful” alternative only exists in a fantasy world where nobody commits violent crimes.