In the last number of months, police reform has been on the forefront of many people’s minds. How much do you know about the different issues involved in policing reform? Can you spot the lie?
A. Most Americans want more police patrolling the streets.
B. Defunding the police will solve the issues that plague the system today.
C. The vast majority of crimes committed are classified by the FBI as less serious.
Let’s take these statements one at a time:
A. True. Police maintain public order and safety, enforce laws, and prevent and investigate crime. About 18,000 federal, state, county, and local agencies in the United States employ over 745,000 sworn officers. Studies show that the mere presence of additional officers in a neighborhood can reduce crime. Americans of all colors understand this and want more police officers, not fewer, in their neighborhoods. Minorities are disproportionately the victims of violent crime and, like everyone else, they want safe homes and communities.
B. False. There are many ways that policing needs reform. But defunding the police is not the answer. Better training for police officers as well as reforms that reduce officer fatigue, should be considered. Police budgets should fund positive police-community programs that build trust with communities, and police forces should reflect the communities they serve. Additionally, when a police officer abuses his power, engages in corruption, or mistreats a citizen, Americans expect that he will face discipline and justice. Too often, this does not happen. Police unions make accountability difficult or impossible, but reforming collective bargaining agreements to eliminate the involvement of police unions in disciplinary matters can ensure that unions do not shield bad cops from discipline and oversight. This is a better direction for reform than defunding.
C. True. Overcriminalization erodes the relationship between police and communities. Of the 10.5 million annual arrests, the bulk are for crimes the FBI classifies as less serious including, but not limited to, drug-abuse offenses, disorderly conduct, loitering, fraud, violations of local ordinances, and civil violations. Examples include arresting a teen for selling water bottles outside of a zoo without a permit or dragging an otherwise law-abiding citizen from a bus for not wearing a face mask. Enforcement makes officers seem callous, while the lawmakers responsible for these overzealous ordinances escape unscathed.
To learn more about policing reform, read IWF’s most recent policy focus HERE.