by Belle Johnson
I recently had a conversation with an acquaintance about how police respond to certain situations. One of my colleagues stated that we needed to defund the police due to many tragic events over the past few years. While I agree that those events should have never happened in the first place, I disagree with the notion of defunding the police.
I propose a few reasons why defunding the police would be a bad idea. The first affect defunding would have on police stations would be the budget. This, along with the public image of police, shrinking recruitment numbers, and lack of training would cause officers to be stretched thin and not be able to respond to many calls at a certain time.
Some people see police officers as dangerous. The BBC reported murders of police officers in the U.S. rose by nearly 60% during 2021, according to FBI Director Christopher Wray.
Cell phone clips of arrests and media coverage also feed into the public image of police. Many cell phone videos of arrests and altercations convince of one side of the story, when really, we are rarely shown the whole clip. We rarely are shown how altercations with police begin and why there was an altercation in the first place.
The public image of police is only one reason recruitment for police officers has gone down over the past few years. The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) conducted a survey in 2019 titled, “The State of Recruitment: A Crisis for Law Enforcement.” Along with public image, the IACP stated it is becoming harder to find quality candidates, and many Millennials and Gen-Z recruits are leaving after only a little time.
Quality candidates are becoming a challenge to find due to the hiring processes. The IACP reported in its survey that background checks are often a barrier in the process, along with those who do make it up the hiring process often have to wait a long time to be officially hired. Some recruits drop out of the process altogether due to the wait time.
Another factor affecting recruitment is the mindset of the younger generations. Many Millennials and Gen-Z’s are not used to staying at the same job or position for a long time. Many in these generations are after jobs with flexible hours so they have more free time.
These factors of recruitment lead to only a few who are hired and stay for a number of years. This leads to fewer people in the workforce, which leads to those who are already in the workforce being spread thin in order to answer all of the calls from the public. The fewer people in the workforce, the less time to train them.
The lack of training for officers often leads to more violent tactics during arrests, which many times leads to tragic ends. These tragic ends are filmed, displayed in the media, and given to the public. With this, the cycle begins again with the public response to the lack of training.
Defunding the police would only make matters worse. There are already many headlines discussing how some cities tried to defund police and crime ended up rising. What officers truly need is more funding in order to receive training to learn how to properly de-escalate tense situations, and gain back the trust of the people.