The spontaneous eruption of the “Black Lives Matter” protest after the unfortunate death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police has once again put the spotlight on the operational methodology of the police department at different cities around the USA. There is a chorus across the country, more so in the Democratic Party strongholds to do fundamental reorganization of the police force by focussing on community policing. Some of the extreme and radical activists have gone so far to demand “defund the police” and re-distribute its budget to marginalized communities, municipal corporations and necessity institutions.
“There is no magic switch to turn off and boom there’s no police department,” said Alex Vitale, a sociology professor at Brooklyn College. She released a book named ‘The End of Policing’. The book has become a manifesto for protests and police-reform advocates. The defund development calls for diminishing networks' dependence on police for various administrative problems like, observing the homeless, settling household quarrels, restraining understudies, reacting to upheavals by individuals with mental illness, paring down violence in neighbourhoods, and proportional reaction to minor inconveniences like somebody attempting to pass a fake $20, the allegation that set off the police call that resulted in Floyd's demise. The funds saved by reducing the workload of police could be utilised by social and community workers to resolve street feuds. “When we talk about de-funding the police, what we're saying is invest in the resources that our communities need,” Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza told NBC News.
There are cities which have approached this reform in a positive manner. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has decided to shift the money from NYPD budget to youth recreational programs. A whopping $150 million is being pulled out of the LAPD by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. This money is proposed to be invested in healthcare systems and build peace centres. Similarly Portland and Oregon have consented to pull police from state funded schools. A few Minneapolis organizations, including the government funded school region, the University of Minnesota and the Park and Recreation Board, have moved to diminish or end their agreements with city police.
Dallas has earlier experienced the positive results of diverting emergency mental health calls, not only on hospitals but also police to non-police establishment when in 2018 RIGHT Care was provided $3 million funding to look after these issues. Since the program started, ambulances and emergency vehicle calls for individuals encountering emotional wellness inconveniences have declined in the south-local region of Dallas where the program works, which has opened up officials to manage different calls, authorities said. This transition was also done after the outcry over the shooting of a schizophrenic man holding a screwdriver in 2014 and subsequent defence of police personnel by the police boss David Brown.
Law enforcement officials and conservative activists believe that de-funding police would lead to an upsurge in criminal activities. President Donald Trump has started making this as a key plank of his re-election campaign while the Former Vice President Joe Biden, who is running against Trump, also came out against de-funding police.
It is therefore too early to predict whether the current phase of “Black Lives Movement” after the death of George Floyd will be successful in bringing some substantial reform in the working of police forces across the cities of the US or the momentum will be lost with some incremental tweaking here and there.