Who’s paying the bills?
The “movement” to defund police departments, and in some instances dismantle them completely, will create more problems than it would solve.
The cries for police reform are justifiable, especially when the daily and nightly news constantly replay lives permanently quieted by the questionable actions of a few law enforcers. Legislating too quickly, however, could unwittingly put students, their families and school faculty at risk.
As things stand, parents, teachers and child caretakers are already overwhelmed by job losses and the closure of schools and daycare facilities — and the uncertainty of how and when those “essential” facilities will reopen.
Yet instead of focusing on truly essential services that really would reflect a return to normal life, elected leaders apparently are stunned by the cries of “Defund the Police.”
New York City officials are considering cutting $1 billion from the NYPD’s budget, and the anti-police squad is urging a hiring freeze, ending the use of police in schools and youth programs, and disbanding NYPD task forces that work in mental health and homelessness. They prefer to have those services in the hands of social services.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and elected leaders in a dozen other sanctuary cities want to mimic New York’s “Big Bad Bill” de Blasio by defunding their police departments. While Mr. Garcetti pledged to trim $150 million, Milwaukee officials went so far as to weigh getting rid of its police force — as if that would cover up the hellish police actions that ended the life of George Floyd.
Cutting police budgets will not stem the 911 calls about “active shooters.” Or a child’s call for police to save their mom and dad from burglars. Or a man’s desperate pleas for someone to save him from an arsonist.
Or, and this is key, students and faculty staring down the barrel of an armed intruder inside a schoolhouse or on a playground.
It’s the job of police — not social workers and school mental health practitioners — to understand the nuances of small communities and neighborhoods. To know near-harmless alcoholics from substance abusers and drug pushers, and pot dens from medical-marijuana smokers.
Social workers are no informers; in fact, they often are ill-informed, concerned with and trained to fill out forms to finance bureaucratic red tape.
And school resource officers, always in high demand following school shootings, can aid in de-escalating some school issues, but they, too, need to know who’s who and what’s what.
For instance, did the school kerfuffle stem from a neighborhood beef at last weekend’s cookout? A girlfriend-girlfriend thing? Is it gang-related?
Older kids already know adults are untrusting. They have to wear uniforms to school. Go through metal detectors. Have their belongings scanned by X-ray machines, lock their smartphones in their lockers and wear ID’s.
Now, thanks to COVID-19, they and their parents know something else: Teachers are afraid students may spread the virus.
Interestingly, both of the school unions in the United States support some configuration of defunding police and bolstering social service and mental health programs.
What nobody’s asking, though, is who’s funding what and to what end?
Those are two questions nobody in Washington, including sanctuary city and state-wannabe D.C., is asking.
• Deborah Simmons can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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