It’s National Police Week. Can you identify which of the following statements about policing is false?
A. The fewer police on the street, the safer black citizens will be.
B. Defunding the police will hurt police-community relations.
C. Reforming police unions, not defunding police, is the best way to reduce police brutality.
Let’s take these statements one at a time:
A. LIE! Black Americans are already 1.5-2 times more likely than whites to be the victims of violent crime. Studies show that putting more cops on the street deters violent crime. By contrast, when there are fewer police on the street or cops feel restrained from acting proactively, violent crime increases. Defunding the police, therefore, will not protect black lives; rather, it will endanger them. Perhaps not surprisingly, then, 60 percent of Blacks want more police hired.
B. TRUTH! When police budgets are cut, the first things to go are often youth programs, diversity initiatives, and police training programs—the very programs that have proven effective in reducing negative interactions between the police and members of the community. Such programs should receive more funding, but defunding the police will only gut them.
C. TRUTH! Unions, which are set up to protect police officer’s jobs, make it difficult to fire bad cops. The police officer who killed George Floyd had been the subject of more than one dozen misconduct complaints. And yet, he remained on the force, protected by his union. Keeping unions out of disciplinary matters will go a long way to curbing police brutality.
Bottom line: Defunding the police undermines efforts at genuine reform and puts black lives in jeopardy. Watch Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Riley discuss racial disparities in policing HERE. Read IWF’s Policy Focus on Policing Reform HERE.