Whether we like it or not, police services are essential. Every civilized society has police and the disorder which would come about without them would be swift and violent. There will always be an element of people who are inclined to violence or theft and not all citizens are capable of protecting themselves from those people. It is becoming apparent that most police forces are in need of some reform. The enraged call to “de-fund” or even abolish police forces is shortsighted and foolish to say the least.
Policing is by its very nature a rough, dangerous, thankless job. A simple traffic stop can turn into a shooting while responding to domestic disputes can lead to being berated and spit upon by the very people they have arrived to protect. The job stress is unimaginable and it has built an insular police culture where they can often lean towards protecting their own rather than correcting improper actions from fellow officers. Police culture needs to change but this will be a work which will take time and effort. Reducing funding is not the way to reduce the pressures on an already overwrought force.
While the killing of George Floyd in and of itself was horrifying, it was the agonizingly slow response by authorities to the killing which truly poured the gasoline on the fire. Disciplining was dragged out step by step. First the officer was put on paid leave. Then he was fired. Then he was charged. Then the charges were upgraded. It took days and unfortunately riots before all that happened. The path to charging Officer Chauvin was like pulling teeth despite the video making it rather clear as day that his actions were completely out of bounds and led to a man’s death. How though would de-funding a department make a department any more likely to suspend or charge officers when they are already short of resources?
What do activists think will happen if police forces truly get de-funded or disbanded? Usually these activists come from the far left and hold an envious loathing for the affluent. How will they feel when gated communities spring up like daisies which are protected by the very police officers who were just laid off? Do they think that people of means are simply going to leave themselves wide open to being victimized by criminals? This will also truly ghettoize the parts of town which can’t afford their own private law enforcement so let’s get real on how unrealistic the calls for de-funding police forces really are.
Activists are claiming that the presence of police officers in and of themselves are offensive to them. Well, I am afraid that they are not going away but we can examine some more reasonable approaches into how to reduce the need for police.
Drug addiction is truly an epidemic and it contributes to crime on all levels. Gang wars are started over drug distribution turf while desperate addicts will steal anything that isn’t nailed down in order to get another fix. We can chase the dealers until the end of time but they won’t go away until we address the demand. As long as there are addicts seeking drugs, there will be dealers there to provide them. Addicts can rarely beat their addictions on their own. They need treatment centers which are expensive and usually full. Increasing funding for mental health and addictions treatment is one of the best ways to reduce crime. This funding does not need to be nor should it be at the expense of current policing though. It isn’t an either/or situation and in the meantime, citizens need police protection from the criminalized drug industry. Reduce the addiction epidemic first, then we can reduce police.
How many laws can we take off the books? Do we still need to have police chasing prostitutes around? Do forms of gambling still need to be illegal? Should it still be a crime to walk down the street and enjoy a beer while you are at it? Do we need to keep chasing down unregulated pot growers? This leads to a long discussion but it only makes sense that if we reduce the laws, we can reduce the need for law enforcement.
We need to reform our catch and release justice system as well. How maddening and frustrating must it be for a police officer to arrest the same individual over and over and over again? This trend contributes to the poor attitudes and issues within police forces. Everybody likes to feel like they are doing a worthwhile job but it must feel pretty pointless when you can’t keep criminals behind bars for more than a few days before they are out and victimizing people again.
Criminal reform is always the ideal goal. It has to be accepted though that some people are simply irredeemable How often do we hear of people being arrested with dozens of prior convictions? It is well established that the vast majority of crimes are committed by a small minority of criminals. Once we have identified those chronic offenders, we need to incarcerate them for long terms. How expensive and dangerous is it to let them out dozens of times only to have them rob people and be arrested again dozens of times? How much court time? How much holding cell time? Face reality and warehouse these criminals long term. We can then focus on rehabilitating those who are still capable of reform and we actually will not need as much policing on the ground. That is the goal no?
Another way to reduce the need is to empower and encourage citizens further to protect themselves. We have the right to defend our property and person but the state strongly frowns on it. Citizens such as Eddie Maurice are victimized for defending their families from chronic criminals. Those charged with defending themselves are almost always released once a jury hears of the circumstances. Fellow citizens understand the right of self-defense even if the system loathes it. Quit hammering on people who want to protect themselves. Train and encourage self-defense How many rural home invasion robberies happen in Texas? Next to none. Want to guess why? If the goal is truly to reduce the need for police officers, then allowing citizens to deal with protection on their own only makes sense.
The next and most complicated step in reducing crime is taking on the unmitigated, socioeconomic catastrophe of our aboriginal population under the Indian Act and in the reserve system. This is an issue which makes every politician’s butthole clench up in terror but it dearly needs to be addressed.
Natives are grossly over-represented in the prison system. Activists use this statistic to claim that this is due to a racist police and justice system. To be blunt, that is simply a load of crap. Canada has bent over backwards to try and reduce the numbers of natives in our prison system. From healing lodges, to sentencing circles to having judges literally instructed to take into account the “indianess” of the defendant upon sentencing as was done in the Christopher Goodstoney case, the state is trying its very hardest to avoid incarcerating natives. This has failed dismally because it refuses to address the simple and real issue. Natives are disproportionately represented in prison because they disproportionately are committing the crimes.
If we want to deal with the number of natives in prison, we have to try to find a way to prevent natives from committing the crimes in the first place. Once they are before a judge, it is too late. The problem is indeed systemic but it isn’t in justice. It is in Canada’s apartheid system of reserves.
How on earth can we expect a culture to be well adapted to the modern world when we keep them dependent and segregated in the ghettos that we call reserves? Natives are raised with one foot in traditional culture and one foot in contemporary culture and the hybrid that it has created is a disastrous and dysfunctional one. It is not a matter of race itself. A person of any race would be socially challenged to say the least if raise within the mess of our reserve system. Poverty, isolation and domestic abuse are overwhelming for people on reserves and it is only getting worse year by year. Even when people escape reserves and move into urban environments, they are often ill prepared to function in society and are susceptible to addiction and crime.
It is a long and painful path but the only way to deal with indigenous crime rates will be to work towards ending the irreparably broken reserve system and abolishing the racist Indian Act. I don’t see the political will to take on a challenge this big any time soon unfortunately though. I am not sure how much worse things will have to get before reality looms for the powers that be but we can rest assured that pouring more resources into a fatally flawed system will be ineffective.
Policing will never go away. It is essential in an orderly and safe society. While policing has issues, demonizing police or vapidly calling for the de-funding or disbanding of police forces fixes nothing and makes nobody safer. Hopefully once the enraged demonstrations calm down, we can start having a realistic discussion on how we can reduce our need for policing. In the meantime, let’s not work with kneejerk reactions as Minneapolis did.