Should Police Departments Be Defunded, if Not Abolished?
While there are multiple interpretations of “defund the police,” the basic definition is to move funding away from police departments and into community resources such as mental health experts, housing, and social workers. In the larger scope of the civil rights movement, some advocates would reallocate some police funding while keeping police departments, others would combine defunding with other police reforms such as body cameras and bias training, and others see defunding as a small step toward ultimately abolishing police departments and the prison system entirely. While ProCon has noted where candidates believe federal law enforcement should be defunded, this question concerns local and state police departments. For more on defunding the police, explore the ProCon debate.
I know what works: Investing in crime prevention and community police officers who’ll walk the beat, who’ll know the neighborhood, and who can restore trust and safety.
So let’s not abandon our streets. Or choose between safety and equal justice.
Let’s come together to protect our communities, restore trust, and hold law enforcement accountable.
That’s why the Justice Department required body cameras, banned chokeholds, and restricted no-knock warrants for its officers.
That’s why the American Rescue Plan provided $350 Billion that cities, states, and counties can use to hire more police and invest in proven strategies like community violence interruption—trusted messengers breaking the cycle of violence and trauma and giving young people hope.
We should all agree: The answer is not to Defund the police. The answer is to FUND the police with the resources and training they need to protect our communities.”-
White House, “Remarks of President Joe Biden – State of the Union Address As Prepared for Delivery,” whitehouse.gov, Mar. 1, 2022
“Living in the land of the free and the home of the brave is something for which I know that we’re all grateful. In North Dakota, we value and respect police officers who enforce the law, and we value and respect military service members who defend our most cherished freedoms. As some states, and some of the iconic major cities of our nation, in the last two years have somehow chosen to tolerate lawlessness, they’ve chosen to defund their police, North Dakota and our cities, we’ve been backing the blue.”-
Doug Burgum, “Governor Doug Burgum: 2022 State of the State Address,” governor.nd.gov, Feb. 16, 2022
“<strong>Chris Christie:</strong><a name=”christie”></a>””They [people arguing to defund police] don’t care whether we’re safer or not. They don’t care about reducing crime. What they care about is grievance politics. Vindictive, vengeful politics against the police. Have there been abuses by police officers across the country? Of course there have been. You and I [interviewer and former U.S. Representative Trey Gowdy] have seen it and as prosecutors we know there are times those things have happened. But the fact of the matter is the way you fix that is you work with the communities and you work with the police to make sure that training gets even better and that we handle the criminals in this society without any distance between the community and the police, because both the community and the police care about it. But, our Democratic friends, their objective is to play politics with this to try to solidify or add to a base of voters that they have, not worrying about whether they’re keeping neighborhoods safe or not.”-
Fox News, “Chris Christie: We Can’t Have Government Demoralizing Police,” foxnews.com, Oct. 3, 2021
“The legislature has passed and I will, when I sign the budget, which will hopefully be relatively soon, will sign into law, $1,000 bonuses for every sworn law enforcement officer, every EMT, every firefighter, and every paramedic in the state of Florida…. Some wanted to defund police, we’re funding the police, and then some.”-
CBS MIami, “Gov. Ron DeSantis: ‘Some Wanted to Defund Police, We’re Funding the Police;’ First Responders to Receive $1,000 Bonuses,” cbsnews.com, May 5, 2021
“I am proud to stand with our nation’s law enforcement. Violence and calls to defund the police do nothing to solve the challenges we face in our country. It’s time for our leaders to stand up to looting and rioting and work with law enforcement, not against them.”-
Heritage Action for America, “Nikki Haley Signs Heritage Action Police Pledge,” heritageaction.com, Aug. 27, 2020
“Instead of defunding the police, we will transform the police. We will incentivize them to prevent violence, not make unnecessary arrests. We will train them in deescalation and mediation skills and partner them with neighborhood organizations. No longer will their relationship to the public be adversarial. They will focus their attention on serious crimes, not harassing ordinary people.”-
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., “Civil Liberties,” kennedy2024.com (accessed Sep. 13, 2023)
“Liberals called for defunding police in the name of protecting black lives. Crime then skyrocketed in these communities. You want to protect all lives? Enforce the law against violent criminals on the streets. It’s not that hard.”
Editors’s Note: Ramaswamy plans to not only defund, but also dismantle, federal law enforcement: “I think the FBI as an institution should not exist. I think that that is far more practical than it sounds.… I do not believe that an institution that entrenched in its culture and way of operating can be reformed.”-
Vivek Ramaswamy, twitter.com, July 20, 2023
Source for Editors’ Note: Sudiksha Kochi, “‘Create Havoc’: House GOP Wants To Defund the FBI. A 2024 Candidate Wants To Shut It Down. What To Know,” usatoday.com, July 31, 2023
“I strongly oppose the radical and dangerous efforts to defund, dismantle and dissolve our police departments Americans know the truth: Without police there is chaos, without law there is anarchy, and without safety there is catastrophe. Though we may all come from different places and different backgrounds, we’re united by our desire to ensure peace and dignity and equality or all Americans.”
Editors’ Note: Trump called for defunding federal law enforcement on Truth Social : “Republicans in Congress should defund the DOJ and FBI until they come to their senses. The Democrats have totally weaponized law enforcement in our country and are viciously using this abuse of power to interfere with our already under siege elections!”-
Kevin Breuninger, “Trump Signs Executive Order Urging Police Reform, Says Cops Need More Funding,” cnbc.com, June 6, 2020
Source for Editors’ Note: Sahil Kapur, “Donald Trump Calls for Defunding Federal Police After His Arrest in New York,” nbcnews.com, Apr. 5, 2023