"We Can't Abolish the Police": A Response
When people see protesters with signs that read “abolish the police” the first thing that often comes to their minds is the question: “Who will enforce the law if the police are gone?” A lot of people are unaware that there is a difference between abolishing the police system and abolishing law enforcement. It has been proven in other sections of this document that the police system is corrupt, and many people believe it only needs reform. On the other hand, some believe it needs to be completely dismantled and built back up. For example, this has been done before in the Camden County Police Department. In 2013, the department rebuilt with the focus of building trust between them and the community. While most police are told to make it home safely, they are being told to make sure the victim and the suspect do the same. The change in the department decreased crime exponentially, with 2018 having only a third of the number of murder cases that occurred in 2012. In light of recent events, the Minneapolis Police Department will also be dismantling their department and rebuilding it, but details on how have not yet been released. When more information has been given, this section will be updated.
So what do protesters think the rebuilding of the police system should look like?
Most of those advocating for the deconstruction of the police department believe that police officers should be replaced with mental health providers, social workers, victim advocates, and more specialized workers. These people would all be trained to handle certain types of situations, which would be preferable to a police officer who goes through six months of police academy training and is then given the authority to kill. Through the use of specialized workers, the law enforcement system can be more effective at helping those who need it while keeping any fatalities to the absolute minimum.
“Won’t this lead to more crime?”
A 2005 report shows that in the Washington D.C area, the police force size doesn’t lead to less crime. It is the presence of the police force in public that leads to a crime decrease. Abolishing the police system won’t lead to more crime if the police don’t have a strong presence in the first place. If the police do have a strong presence in a specific location, they can be replaced with authoritative figures who have gone through extensive de-escalation training to keep any situation calm until the proper response team can arrive. Another major aspect of policing is road/highway patrol and enforcing traffic rules. While this aspect is of major importance, those who take on this duty do not need to have lethal weapons to do their job. This has been a problem for Black people in the past, due to the fact that they are twice as likely to be pulled over as White people are. They are also four times more likely to be searched, which can escalate a situation until a police officer feels the need to discharge his firearm. By taking away lethal weapons from these officers, there is a much smaller chance that someone getting pulled over will result in death.
"What about assault and property crimes? Who will handle those?"
Who will handle those? In 2015, less than half of violent and property crimes were reported, and an even smaller percentage of those were solved. Specialized detectives should be the ones handling these crimes. With most currently going unsolved, it is obvious that a change needs to be made. With people trained to solve these types of crimes, the law enforcement system can get justice for those that need it, and they can do it without bringing harm to innocent people, or the guilty party.
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