'Defunding' the police is a poor slogan for ideas worth investigating

Opinion Sep 14, 2020 Stoney Creek News

Hamilton councillors have come up against a cause they are unable to simply delay away.

There were over 40 pre-recorded and in-person delegations to the Sept. 9 general issues committee to talk about “defunding” the Hamilton police. Councillors also received over 400 pieces of correspondence in support of the campaign. Reluctant councillors had allowed the delegations even though they were skeptical that having the public talk about the issue around the council table was in the community’s best interest. They still didn’t decide a course of action, preferring to wait until the police chief attends a future meeting.

The idea of “defunding” the police likely scares some councillors and their suburban constituents. However, the idea to “defund” police services is a misnomer. The movement which swept across the globe in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death at the hands of a police office, is about improving how the police interact with the public and ensuring law enforcement officers aren't used in situations that would be better handled by other professionals. The failure to make the core message understandable to the broader public continues to obfuscate the important ideas behind a movement, which has become simply slogans and hashtags without any clear thought or direction. During the general issues committee meeting proponents failed time and again to advance a coherent strategy.

At the movement’s core is what has become an existential issue: “What role should a cop have in the 21st century and beyond?”

There is a genuine need to overhaul a policing model that has ignored the motto “serve and protect.” Several advocates believe that shifting the city’s police budget to other initiatives such as food insecurity, anti-racism programs, and additional affordable housing, would do something constructive to eliminate poverty and protect the most vulnerable. Even many police would agree they are the wrong agency to deal with mental health crises, domestic disputes, littering, neighbourhood disputes or a homelessness problem.

However, there have also been examples where policing services in a few cities in the United States have cut their budgets and eliminated officers. The result? Additional backlogs of unsolved crimes and longer wait times for police responses.

Advocates also must realize that if police services are “defunded” that will quickly mean the further rise of private security police, who are accountable only to their employers. That would lead to at least a two-tier enforcement society, further clashes with the public and ultimately chaos.

Over the last 40 years there have been great strides made to identify public safety issues and enable more humane community-oriented rather than occupation-style policing. Critics, though have argued that the investment in technology has meant additional surveillance and more cops that continues its oppression of people.

Hamilton Police officials, as well as other enforcement agencies, also must recognize they are feared and in some cases hated based on how they conduct themselves. This time for reform could be an opportunity for senior officers to regain the public’s trust, while also loosening their control and allow citizens to regain some control over their lives.

This strategy, though, needs to include public input from all parts of the community. At its best the model should mean reconsidering the most effective means to attain public safety, how much it will cost, who should pay and who should do the job.

 

'Defunding' the police is a poor slogan for ideas worth investigating

Opinion Sep 14, 2020 Stoney Creek News

Hamilton councillors have come up against a cause they are unable to simply delay away.

There were over 40 pre-recorded and in-person delegations to the Sept. 9 general issues committee to talk about “defunding” the Hamilton police. Councillors also received over 400 pieces of correspondence in support of the campaign. Reluctant councillors had allowed the delegations even though they were skeptical that having the public talk about the issue around the council table was in the community’s best interest. They still didn’t decide a course of action, preferring to wait until the police chief attends a future meeting.

The idea of “defunding” the police likely scares some councillors and their suburban constituents. However, the idea to “defund” police services is a misnomer. The movement which swept across the globe in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death at the hands of a police office, is about improving how the police interact with the public and ensuring law enforcement officers aren't used in situations that would be better handled by other professionals. The failure to make the core message understandable to the broader public continues to obfuscate the important ideas behind a movement, which has become simply slogans and hashtags without any clear thought or direction. During the general issues committee meeting proponents failed time and again to advance a coherent strategy.

At the movement’s core is what has become an existential issue: “What role should a cop have in the 21st century and beyond?”

There is a genuine need to overhaul a policing model that has ignored the motto “serve and protect.” Several advocates believe that shifting the city’s police budget to other initiatives such as food insecurity, anti-racism programs, and additional affordable housing, would do something constructive to eliminate poverty and protect the most vulnerable. Even many police would agree they are the wrong agency to deal with mental health crises, domestic disputes, littering, neighbourhood disputes or a homelessness problem.

However, there have also been examples where policing services in a few cities in the United States have cut their budgets and eliminated officers. The result? Additional backlogs of unsolved crimes and longer wait times for police responses.

Advocates also must realize that if police services are “defunded” that will quickly mean the further rise of private security police, who are accountable only to their employers. That would lead to at least a two-tier enforcement society, further clashes with the public and ultimately chaos.

Over the last 40 years there have been great strides made to identify public safety issues and enable more humane community-oriented rather than occupation-style policing. Critics, though have argued that the investment in technology has meant additional surveillance and more cops that continues its oppression of people.

Hamilton Police officials, as well as other enforcement agencies, also must recognize they are feared and in some cases hated based on how they conduct themselves. This time for reform could be an opportunity for senior officers to regain the public’s trust, while also loosening their control and allow citizens to regain some control over their lives.

This strategy, though, needs to include public input from all parts of the community. At its best the model should mean reconsidering the most effective means to attain public safety, how much it will cost, who should pay and who should do the job.

 

'Defunding' the police is a poor slogan for ideas worth investigating

Opinion Sep 14, 2020 Stoney Creek News

Hamilton councillors have come up against a cause they are unable to simply delay away.

There were over 40 pre-recorded and in-person delegations to the Sept. 9 general issues committee to talk about “defunding” the Hamilton police. Councillors also received over 400 pieces of correspondence in support of the campaign. Reluctant councillors had allowed the delegations even though they were skeptical that having the public talk about the issue around the council table was in the community’s best interest. They still didn’t decide a course of action, preferring to wait until the police chief attends a future meeting.

The idea of “defunding” the police likely scares some councillors and their suburban constituents. However, the idea to “defund” police services is a misnomer. The movement which swept across the globe in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death at the hands of a police office, is about improving how the police interact with the public and ensuring law enforcement officers aren't used in situations that would be better handled by other professionals. The failure to make the core message understandable to the broader public continues to obfuscate the important ideas behind a movement, which has become simply slogans and hashtags without any clear thought or direction. During the general issues committee meeting proponents failed time and again to advance a coherent strategy.

At the movement’s core is what has become an existential issue: “What role should a cop have in the 21st century and beyond?”

There is a genuine need to overhaul a policing model that has ignored the motto “serve and protect.” Several advocates believe that shifting the city’s police budget to other initiatives such as food insecurity, anti-racism programs, and additional affordable housing, would do something constructive to eliminate poverty and protect the most vulnerable. Even many police would agree they are the wrong agency to deal with mental health crises, domestic disputes, littering, neighbourhood disputes or a homelessness problem.

However, there have also been examples where policing services in a few cities in the United States have cut their budgets and eliminated officers. The result? Additional backlogs of unsolved crimes and longer wait times for police responses.

Advocates also must realize that if police services are “defunded” that will quickly mean the further rise of private security police, who are accountable only to their employers. That would lead to at least a two-tier enforcement society, further clashes with the public and ultimately chaos.

Over the last 40 years there have been great strides made to identify public safety issues and enable more humane community-oriented rather than occupation-style policing. Critics, though have argued that the investment in technology has meant additional surveillance and more cops that continues its oppression of people.

Hamilton Police officials, as well as other enforcement agencies, also must recognize they are feared and in some cases hated based on how they conduct themselves. This time for reform could be an opportunity for senior officers to regain the public’s trust, while also loosening their control and allow citizens to regain some control over their lives.

This strategy, though, needs to include public input from all parts of the community. At its best the model should mean reconsidering the most effective means to attain public safety, how much it will cost, who should pay and who should do the job.