Classroom Report: Defunding the Police

By Eli Chazin

The discussion this past Tuesday on defunding the police was a collective effort of fifteen participants. These individuals actively engaged in conversation that ranged from police reforms to systemic racism while noshing on fresh fruit brought in by yours truly. All fifteen participants had raised their hands when asked if they had heard the term “defund the police” before, had some previous knowledge about police reform, and thought police funds should be reallocated towards better community efforts and trainings. It should be noted that one participant felt strongly about abolishing the police altogether. They, along with a few others, vocalized their concern for the police’s racist historical past and the continual lack of concern and respect for various, intersectional marginalized groups. 

When defining police, the participants had ultimately agreed their job was to serve and enforce the law, but in reality, police are “incredibly militarized”, “racist”, and/or “on a power trip”. Additionally, no participant raised their hand when asked if police make them feel safe and protected. Many of the participants had also concurred that police uniforms, badges and all, brought forth more intimidation and power complexes over everyday pedestrians than using their position of power for good. One participant had felt very strongly about the police not using their budgets effectively or efficiently. “I feel like they’re not using the money?” they said. Overall, the consensus and next course of action was police reform.

“Reform won’t happen unless we all progress as a society”, one participant shared. Another person suggested reform starting at the police academy, where candidates can take the necessary de-escalation and bias trainings to become a part of the police force. Others felt they should’ve done internal investigations of police forces and re-evaluate who they’ve onboarded to avoid more disparaging interactions between police and people of color. It seems to be quite self-evident that the police are not doing their part to make this country a safer place.

When it comes to reform, adding body cameras and banning chokeholds will not completely solve police brutality. Police are notorious for escalating situations unnecessarily and have continued to be portrayed in a negative light on social media and in the streets. All 15 participants agreed that police should not be people to call for noise complaints or other forms of non-criminal reports. The state of New York has a 311 number for these specific instances, but many other states have not prioritized a separate emergency service hotline for non-criminal inquiries, so the police are the ones left to address the concern regardless of their expertise.

Regardless of intentions, police are not looked at in the same way. Since the George Floyd protests, police forces have been continually criticized and condemned for their actions against marginalized communities and the fight doesn’t seem to be over any time soon. Without national conversations around police reform and policy changes, there will be no change in our police.

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