Can We Reform the Police Without Defunding Them?

Can We Reform the Police Without Defunding Them?

( – The March 2020 death of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police officers sparked a national debate about the future of police departments. Now, civic leaders and citizens across America are calling to defund them entirely in the wake of multiple demonstrations. But is this really the best approach — and might it be possible to reform the police without entirely defunding them instead?

The Truth About Defunding Police

Defunding the police, or dismantling departments altogether, is not the answer. If someone steals your car or breaks into your home, you need someone to call. If you are attacked, assaulted, or threatened, you deserve to be protected from those threats.

Yes, it’s time for systemic change throughout most American law enforcement departments and agencies. Nearly everyone can agree on that fact. But it is a problem to be solved, not a topic to simply abandon for good.

So what does meaningful police reform look like moving forwards?

Rethinking Public Safety and Law Enforcement

Police reform is not a new concept. President Lyndon B. Johnson created a commission on law enforcement in 1965 that refocused the criminal justice system’s role in American society.

The first step in America’s ongoing “war on crime,” Johnson’s commission reevaluated the roles of police and prosecutors, defense attorneys, and probation officers along the way.

Similarly, President Trump signed an executive order in late 2019 to establish a new Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement under the Attorney General’s direction.

On January 22, 2020, Attorney General William Barr announced the creation of that commission. Barr tasked the commission to examine a variety of issues related to police reform, including:

  • How can the country improve officer recruitment and training?
  • What issues affect the mental health and physical safety of police officers?
  • How can federal grants assist local law enforcement efforts?
  • How to integrate public health services, social services, and education to help reduce crime and ease law enforcement officers’ strain?

Additionally, the Department of Justice continues its work with communities through the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. This program’s core is a commitment to building mutual respect and trust between police departments and officers and the communities they serve.

Real police reform demands an integrative approach involving communities, states, and the federal government. The Trump administration is fully committed through these programs to provide the necessary leadership to complete the process of implementing significant change.

Copyright 2020,