While it really looks like the whole “defund the police” movement is well and truly dead–thank God for that–there are still some out there who are a bit unstable about law enforcement. What’s more, many of those who are still calling for police to be defunded are also still calling for gun control.
I get people wanting to do something more proactive than just have the police arrest people. After all, I’ve advocated for that kind of thing for years now. However, that’s not enough in and of itself. Not right now, anyway, especially when there are a lot of programs with shaky results. You still need police to cover things until those programs’ results kick off.
But for some, police are never going to be the answer.
On the left, frustration with Adams’ rhetoric and some of Biden’s initiatives, which include his push for local governments to use money from his American Rescue Plan to hire more police officers, reflects the underlying forces that drove the “defund” movement.
Kina Collins, a longtime anti-gun violence activist leader currently running a progressive primary challenge to incumbent Democratic Rep. Danny Davis in Illinois’$2 7th district dismissed the debate over defunding – “I call it funding our communities,” she said – as overly simplistic, but questioned whether a surge of police would have the desired effect.
“Here in the city of Chicago, in my district, the Chicago Police Department was given nearly $300 million from COVID relief, on top of their $1.7 billion that they already had allocated in the city budget. They dispatched a thousand police officers on July 4 weekend and guess what, 100-plus people were shot, 19 fatally,” said Collins, who served as a member of the Biden transition team’s task force on gun violence. “There were police officers who were shot – so the people who are supposed to be protecting us in these communities have now become a part of the vicious cycle of being gun violence survivors.”
The answer, Collins said, will not come from “pouring more money into an already-bloated police budget that doesn’t make us any safer,” but through investing in “violence interruption” programs that identify and train people within high-risk communities “who can identify high potential shooters and those who have the high risk to be shot at and deescalating those situations.”
OK, first, let’s understand what a thousand officers really means in Chicago.
First, if a total of 1,000 officers were dispatched for the entire weekend, that may seem like a lot, but it’s not. There’s only a third of those officers on duty at any given time, and that’s for a city of 2.71 million people. That’s one officer for every 8,138 people. Even if it’s 1,000 on the streets at any given point, that’s still one officer for every 2,710 people.
Doesn’t sound like that good of a ratio, does it. Can’t imagine how 100 people got shot without a police officer right there. It’s an absolute mystery.
See, what people need to understand is that while a thousand police officers sounds like a lot, it’s not when you’re talking about millions of people in a given city. You can’t blame the police for failing to stop 100 or so shootings when they’re each covering thousands of people. They simply can’t be everywhere they need to be. Not in those numbers.
What Collins and folks like her have done is hamstrung the police by giving them insufficient numbers to do the job, then blamed them for not getting it done. It’s the kind of thing an abusive boss does to an employee.
No, even then, police can’t be everywhere.
When it comes to funding the police, a community can spend whatever they want. However, you don’t get to complain about the results when you’re expecting one officer to cover thousands upon thousands of people in every shift. Especially when your side also backs bail reform policies that put these exact same people back on the streets within hours of their arrest.
It’s your policies that are part of the problem. Especially when the people screaming about reducing police funding also want to make it impossible for the law-abiding citizens being left at the mercy of the wolves to defend themselves. “Defund the police” and gun control are incompatible. On the other hand, increased policing and gun rights go hand-in-hand quite well.