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Defunding the police

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  • Defunding the police

    Since we were talking about this in another thread...

    “Defunding the police” has become an imprecise shorthand for a whole number of ideas and initiatives. It’s imprecision has unnecessarily made it a hotter button issue than it should be. Do people really mean “de-militarize the police,” “cut funding to police departments,” “diver money from police budgets to social services budgets,” or something else? It is also tied to another imprecise term “police reform” that has also become a hotter button than it should be because of its imprecision.

    In the US I think we agree about a lot of substance, but the symbolism in the rhetoric gets in the way of finding common ground and compromise. I think these phrases, especially at this moment, illustrate this well. Obviously other systemic issues are problematic as well, and I would argue that focusing on symbolism and rhetoric is to avoid engaging many of the systemic problems. It’s easier to rally around symbols than confront pervasive and widening inequalities.

  • #2
    I agree that the rhetoric and terminology of it gets confused in some discussions. I think the prevailing opinion and interpretation, at least it more measured circles, is to restructure "Police" (I use quotes there for reasons soon to be made clear) funding to increase access of non-Enforcement activity and reduce SWAT/Riot/etc activities (de-militarization). Where the issue lies is with the less-than measured circles where "De-Fund the Police" has become a cry for police abolition based on the argument that the Police are purveyors of suppression, repression, and hate. I understand it, from an emotion standpoint, as many of those making that call have been brought up in an environment where--rightly or wrongly--the Police have always been viewed as task-masters, outsiders, and arbitrators of near totalitarian force (follow these random laws passed to you from on high or face the dire consequences of rod and ruin).

    The discussion, in my view, would be far more constructive if we drop the "de-fund" moniker and instead adopt a more comprehensive and radical view of all-encompassing Pubic Safety reform. In this way, we as a society may find better ways to tackle the very real issues without it becoming an issue of what the Police symbolize to an individual or group. As you say, Doc, let's not focus on the argument of symbol but instead strive to correct the deeper problems.
    "In omnibus requiem quaesivi, et nusquam inveni nisi in angulo cum libro"
    --Thomas a Kempis

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    • #3
      Yeah. Public safety reform is a more
      constructive framework to actually discuss the issues. “The police” as a generic term has become so laden with connotative meaning that it is now nearly impossible to frame the issue without drawing ideological sides and corners. It also demonstrates a misunderstanding of how law enforcement and public safety work.

      I wish the conversation centered on effectively spending money to make all people feel safer. Maybe even safe without qualification. I have the advantage and luck of growing up in an environment where I was taught that police protected me, and I had the luxury of always feeling that. Meaningful reform would focus on everyone feeling so safe.

      And (I have to add) no one outside if the military needs
      tanks and armored vehicles. They are going to get used and possibly misused as long as they are in a force’s inventory. And think of how many social workers that tank represents. Again-Don’t defund, but use the money effectively, and for safety. Tanks are weapons of aggression.

      Comment


      • #4
        As much as I don't like the phrase "Defund the Police" I have to say it probably grabs more attention than "Reform Public Safety". So it's possible the movement wouldn't be as successful as it has been if it had a less controversial sounding phrase. Also, a lot of conservatives don't see things like mental health services and social workers to be a public safety issue. I don't want to sound like a Lefty shaming the Right but they've made passing social programs extremely difficult. It saddens me to think of the sort of societal improvements we could have if some of our Military and Police funding were shifted to more humane aims.

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        • #5
          I'm pro-Military and pro-Police on principle, at least to a point, but I agree that far, far, too much is spent on the Military and Military equipment. I think we could probably have a whole other thread on military spending if we were so inclined. As far as police goes, I don't think cutting spending is the solution at least not at first. Shifting spending within the Law Enforcement agencies away from special weapons and military grade equipment to favor improved social interdiction training for police would see better benefit, I think. Most importantly--and this is something I have yet to hear anyone talk about--increase budgeting in Law Enforcement for psychological support, routine screenings, and therapies for the LEOs would perhaps see some of the most positive impact in the overall quality of our officers and policing. Where the rest of the equation comes in is in increasing spending on non-enforcement agencies as I mentioned before and fundamental changes to the laws and ways police are used. As the rest of the support structure improves I could see us then needing fewer police which would then allow us to reduce spending over time.
          "In omnibus requiem quaesivi, et nusquam inveni nisi in angulo cum libro"
          --Thomas a Kempis

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by EverKing View Post
            Most importantly--and this is something I have yet to hear anyone talk about--increase budgeting in Law Enforcement for psychological support, routine screenings, and therapies for the LEOs would perhaps see some of the most positive impact in the overall quality of our officers and policing.
            This is a good idea and I support it on paper. But in reality I think it would be an uphill battle that would require more than just funding. I don't have firsthand knowledge, and so could be wrong, but it is my understanding that there is a mental health stigma in the police and military. And that's in addition to the general stigma mental health issues have nationally. Your average officer isn't going to want to admit having issues due to an experience on duty let alone risk being seen as unfit for said duty.

            It's a really sticky subject.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Thanos Shadowsage View Post

              This is a good idea and I support it on paper. But in reality I think it would be an uphill battle that would require more than just funding. I don't have firsthand knowledge, and so could be wrong, but it is my understanding that there is a mental health stigma in the police and military. And that's in addition to the general stigma mental health issues have nationally. Your average officer isn't going to want to admit having issues due to an experience on duty let alone risk being seen as unfit for said duty.

              It's a really sticky subject.
              From my understanding and from what I have experienced with members of Law Enforcement and the Military, I think you are correct about the stigma associated with mental health support. In the veteran community it has been slowly improving but from what I understand it remains a problem in active duty circles. I do think integrating mental health support into law enforcement, perhaps even mandating it to start (x hours per year to maintain licensing, perhaps?) will start to normalize it and reduce the stigma associated with it. After all, if everyone has to partake an individual is no longer "different" or "weak" for getting the support. You are right though, there is a lot to overcome in this area before we can start to see progress--but just because something is difficult doesn't mean it shouldn't be tried.
              "In omnibus requiem quaesivi, et nusquam inveni nisi in angulo cum libro"
              --Thomas a Kempis

              Comment


              • #8
                My two cents. The Brazilian police are split between military and civil. The military handles the execution of the law whereas the civil handles investigations.
                From one side our beloved left wishes to demilitarize it, so, it might not be a good thing if it happens. I am actually happy with the distinction of roles although they are not strict.

                There are many cases of police force abuse.
                There are many cases of policemen being killed by criminals because the police cannot be more incisive or use lethal force in a death threatening situation.
                Of course, there are many corrupt policemen.
                Of course, there are many more decent policemen.
                Policemen are usually frustrated because they are not well paid for the risk they take. This leads many to corruption.

                The level of lenience our law today grants to criminals is irritating. Common citizens are more likely to suffer violence perpetrated by criminals.than criminals being punished.

                I know a bit more of the police crowd handling team here in SP because my brother used to be part of the team and he is a captain. My parents and my family are happy he is not doing fieldwork anymore. The crowd handling team is extremely well prepared and only uses violence under extreme danger. It is more likely that someone in the crowd to menace them than otherwise.
                Of course, the left parties have infiltrated people in the crowds to make things more extreme, and when it happens our beloved press, whose political orientation is far left, tries to create a huge issue.

                Of course, the police make mistakes here. Innocent people are affected.

                But I am rather supporting the police than criminals. And by criminals, I include also corrupt politicians. Sadly, a corrupt politician is nearly becoming a pleonasm.

                "From time to time I demonstrate the inconceivable, or mock the innocent, or give truth to liars, or shred the poses of virtue.(...) Now I am silent; this is my mood." From Sundrun's Garden, Jack Vance.
                "As the Greeks have created the Olympus based upon their own image and resemblance, we have created Gotham City and Metropolis and all these galaxies so similar to the corporate world, manipulative, ruthless and well paid, that conceived them." Braulio Tavares.

                Comment


                • #9
                  @zlogdan I don't want to derail yet another topic but I know Brazilian politics is a sticky situation as well. Come to think of it, from a leftist point of view, a lot of countries are taking an alarming stance of late. Is it just the pendulum swing of time or is there more to it? Without going into details I've hard things about the USA, UK, Poland, Brazil, and other countries leaning heavily right lately. Not just conservative right but seemingly dictatorship right. I'm willing to believe there is an element of extremism to those claims but its hard to ignore. This seems to be diverging from the main topic again. For that I am sorry. But I don't know how to respond without addressing a wider perspective.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Thanos Shadowsage View Post
                    @zlogdan I don't want to derail yet another topic but I know Brazilian politics is a sticky situation as well. Come to think of it, from a leftist point of view, a lot of countries are taking an alarming stance of late. Is it just the pendulum swing of time or is there more to it? Without going into details I've hard things about the USA, UK, Poland, Brazil, and other countries leaning heavily right lately. Not just conservative right but seemingly dictatorship right. I'm willing to believe there is an element of extremism to those claims but its hard to ignore. This seems to be diverging from the main topic again. For that I am sorry. But I don't know how to respond without addressing a wider perspective.
                    Well I explained the situation here

                    https://www.multiverse.org/forum/the...s-vp-candidatehttps://www.multiverse.org/forum/the...s-vp-candidate

                    In short, I explained why I voted for Bolsonaro. if I still support him? No.

                    There has been a lot of exaggeration because in his government homophobia became a crime, activities to condemn racism were increased as well as the combat to violence against women became stronger. I just mention these because what they are saying is that now Bolsonaro runs concentration camps and even if it is not by his will, the above statements are true.
                    If you ever find a Brazilian gay person afraid of going back to Brazil, this person is delusional.

                    Bolsonaro speaks what comes to his mind. If he is provoked he answers even worse.

                    I think he is not a guy that loves to stay among gay people, the footage I have seen seems to show him very uncomfortable. In the past, he was provoked because he was against a small guideline for a sexual life that should be distributed for kids of 6 and 7 years of age here in our schools. He described it as "gay kit" which made the press ( which continues free to provoke him even better now ) to go after him all the time asking "why you hate gays". After the second time, he has become increasingly irritated and from there have come all the pearls he has perpetrated about gay people which I admit are extremely rude. He is accused of hating women because once Maria do Rosario called him a "rapist" which largely infuriated him because he has been talking about this wonderful child here:

                    https://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caso_L...ipe_Caff%C3%A9

                    ( a wonderful 16 years kid that rapped a 16 years girl for 5 days and then killed her ) and he defended a death penalty to him and he has answered the statement from Maria do Rosario with "I would not rape you" ( as in, you are too ugly )

                    Now it is hard to support him because he continues to do the old politics, the very one he said to condemn. If this makes PT and Lula angels? I refuse to think that.

                    About the left, unlike what I was thinking when I voted for him, is not a threat to democracy. It is just another type of thinking. For example, if the Democrats are "the left", I like them, especially Obama ( who I criticized stupidly ) . I don't even mind real communists like the Brazilian party PCO, who unlike PT, tell the truth about what they think. I am happy that we have so many social benefits and I hate the fact the right thought says these are the government's obligations. I think also, that unlike what I thought and heard from right-wingers here in Brazil, Trump is a clown.
                    Ok, Cuba and Venezuela are the worst kinds of left and they are extremely connected to PT leaders.
                    "From time to time I demonstrate the inconceivable, or mock the innocent, or give truth to liars, or shred the poses of virtue.(...) Now I am silent; this is my mood." From Sundrun's Garden, Jack Vance.
                    "As the Greeks have created the Olympus based upon their own image and resemblance, we have created Gotham City and Metropolis and all these galaxies so similar to the corporate world, manipulative, ruthless and well paid, that conceived them." Braulio Tavares.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by EverKing View Post

                      From my understanding and from what I have experienced with members of Law Enforcement and the Military, I think you are correct about the stigma associated with mental health support. In the veteran community it has been slowly improving but from what I understand it remains a problem in active duty circles. I do think integrating mental health support into law enforcement, perhaps even mandating it to start (x hours per year to maintain licensing, perhaps?) will start to normalize it and reduce the stigma associated with it. After all, if everyone has to partake an individual is no longer "different" or "weak" for getting the support. You are right though, there is a lot to overcome in this area before we can start to see progress--but just because something is difficult doesn't mean it shouldn't be tried.
                      The stigma is real. The obvious part is a response to a certain standard of masculinity that easily becomes toxic. That fear of weakness is certainly part of the broad problem. But much of the stigma also comes from a fear of appearing like the people you’re locking up.

                      The mandatory counseling that is a part of some post-trauma return to duty procedures is also often dismissed and certainly resented.

                      Having said that, I agree that we need this. And they need it. It will really take a cultural shift, strong commitment, and strong leadership to make it happen.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Thanos Shadowsage View Post
                        As much as I don't like the phrase "Defund the Police" I have to say it probably grabs more attention than "Reform Public Safety". So it's possible the movement wouldn't be as successful as it has been if it had a less controversial sounding phrase. Also, a lot of conservatives don't see things like mental health services and social workers to be a public safety issue. I don't want to sound like a Lefty shaming the Right but they've made passing social programs extremely difficult. It saddens me to think of the sort of societal improvements we could have if some of our Military and Police funding were shifted to more humane aims.
                        I don’t want to derail the discussion, but the right in the US is certainly just oppositional these days. That’s all they care about. They stand for Trump and “owning the libs.” So of course they will oppose anything proposed by anyone left of Lindsey Graham out of hand. All of the supposedly pro military pro law enforcement talk has been shown absolutely to be a charade over the last few days.

                        (And don’t forget things that used to be right wing issues like deficit spending and massive national debt are now perfectly acceptable because their team is doing it, to the nearly exclusive benefit of the richest Americans who will never have to pay part of the bill).

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Doc View Post
                          ...
                          “Defunding the police” has become an imprecise shorthand for a whole number of ideas and initiatives. It’s imprecision has unnecessarily made it a hotter button issue than it should be. Do people really mean “de-militarize the police,” “cut funding to police departments,” “diver money from police budgets to social services budgets,” or something else? ...
                          Seeing as BLM is, more or less, the leading force in the protests and considering that one of the core demands is to listen and give space to people from the black community, why not just see if BLM, or any related groups, have made statements on what "Defund the Police" means?

                          For instance, the BLM website offers: What defunding the police really means.

                          Of course, that's pretty short and maybe left you with more questions. Well, I rather quickly found this Q&A with a Canadian BLM leader. It's got to be just as easy to find something from your home state or, at least, country.

                          I also took a look at a few news/media sites and found that "Defund the police" explainers are quite popular. Searching on "Defund the police confuses me" unearthed What does 'defund the police' mean and does it have merit? from the Brookings Institute.

                          For the most part, I'd say Doc's “diver[t] money from police budgets to social services budgets” is the primary message. Of course, given that BLM is not a centralized movement, and since it's not the only player on the field, there's a lot of other messages getting pushed. Of those that I've looked at I thought Campaign Zero looked interesting. Black Futures Lab, started by one the BLM founders, also looked interesting, but I couldn't find anything from them on defunding the police.

                          Call me a radical lefty but you could say I am pro-BLM and pro-Defund-the-Police on principle, at least to a point. At the very least I'd like to see it get enough support that people in positions of power see a need and/or benefit to implementing some, or all, of that public safety reform most everybody else here favours. Because without a harder position to fend off, I don't see that stuff happening either.
                          Last edited by Heresiologist; 09-07-2020, 03:35 PM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I think sending the right people to do the right job is a worthy spend.
                            Infinite complexity according to simple rules.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              What I find appalling is that the basic theory of government as argued by the US Declaration of Independence and Constitution is that the power of life and death is to be strictly rationed, limited, etc. The Head of State and the Executive branch is to be constrained by constitutionality. And it is to be open to be contested. Or in other words, the power of life and death is not to be casually used.

                              Fast forward to 21C and what do we see but the Executive branch using it casually, and in a highly biased manner.

                              If I have any right to make any suggestions, it would be to the BLM folk to raise that issue in the courts of law and the court of public opinion. Once that has been aired, then I suspect the issue of "de-funding the police" would settle into place.
                              sigpic Myself as Mephistopheles (Karen Koed's painting of me, 9 Nov 2008, U of Canterbury, CHCH, NZ)

                              Gold is the power of a man with a man
                              And incense the power of man with God
                              But myrrh is the bitter taste of death
                              And the sour-sweet smell of the upturned sod,

                              Nativity,
                              by Peter Cape

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