Opinion

They Do, But They Really Don’t

Defund and Disband the Police

From the younger and more progressive generations (2nd half of the Millennial and beyond) want to defund the police in the US. But, really they don’t. What they want to do is disband the police system and do without it. They have agreed to defund police as a compromise to the older generations.

I had a discussion today with a young person of Generation Z, who patiently explained to me how the police be should disbanded and replaced with a different system that would remove the need for the police to patrol the streets of America.

In this article I will look at how the current policing model can be changed. Remember that currently policing is reactive, not proactive. That tells us that the motto “to protect and serve” doesn’t mean what it says. Keep in mind that these suggestions are not all inclusive. What I present is the framework that can be built.

To begin, I will pick apart crimes and how they could be handled differently. Most crimes are over by the time police are notified and can arrive at the scene. With that being the case, why do we need police officers to respond? With the appropriate training in investigating, interviewing, and report writing, a non-police officer can respond and document the crime. A trained crime scene technician would also respond to collect any evidence. This would meet the needs of the citizens in the community. With this model, any crime can be handled regardless of what the specific crime is, like theft, burglary, robbery, murder, etc.

But what if the crime is still in progress? In the new paradigm I currently envision (meaning I can adapt to better ideas), that there would be a small team of sworn & armed police officers that would respond. This small team, say five officers, would secure the scene and if required, take any offender into custody. Then the scene would be turned over to the civilian “investigator” and the crime scene technician. The team of officers would depart to handle any other duties they are assigned.

Okay, but what about crimes like domestic disturbance calls? When the call comes to the dispatch center, the dispatcher would determine key information. That information would include whether or not the other involved party is still on scene and whether or not weapons are involved or present at the scene. If there are weapons involved, send the team of officers to secure the scene. Then a trained crisis intervention worker would take over and handle the problem. If necessary, a crime scene technician would also respond to collect evidence.

Yes, but who is going to handle all the crazy drivers on the streets? I’ll answer by saying we can use alternative enforcement. License plate scanners and cameras can “catch” violators. Then a ticket can be sent in the mail to the vehicle’s registered owner. If the registered owner denies driving the vehicle at the time of the violation, it wouldn’t matter. They are the registered owner, so they get the ticket. In the future they should be more selective over who uses their vehicle.

Sounds reasonable so far, but what about people who have warrants out for their arrest? How is that going to be handled. My answer is that most people will appear in court, especially after the justice system has been overhauled so that there is no disparity in “punishments.” While this is a topic all on its own, I will say that any violent/dangerous offenders can be handled by the police officer team (unless or until a better option comes to light).

As you can see this basic outline for handling crime in the community is accomplished with no heavy-handed ways from over militarized police agencies. There would be no unions to shield officers and interfere with the operations in this policing paradigm.

These aspects would be good steps towards a viable new policing paradigm. Police budgets would be cut down, with the money going to other areas in a community. More money to social services, education opportunities, and job training programs for instance. Money could be spent to fight poverty, improve living conditions, help first-time home buyers even. There are probably many more areas that would benefit as well. Careful planning is paramount to successfully creating this new paradigm. Plus, we must remain willing to change and adapt as better ideas and options present themselves.

This new policing paradigm would report to a civilian oversight committee representing all the different segments of the citizenry. Accountability must be removed from a internal organizational chain of command. The “Chief of Police” would answer to the oversight committee. Transparency of all aspects of the paradigm would have the goal of gaining and maintaining the trust of the community. The people must know and see accountability working to keep policing as is done using the practices of being fair, firm, and consistent.

The time has come for the next evolution of policing in America. Are you ready for change?

Until next time

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