What People Mean by 'Defund the Police'

It varies, but common idea is to divert money from police to social programs, communities
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 8, 2020 7:42 AM CDT

(Newser) – The George Floyd protests have resulted in a new mantra: "Defund the police." But what does that mean exactly? The definitions vary, but the most common one centers on redirecting some of the money that goes to police departments to social programs and marginalized communities, reports CNN. Police departments wouldn't be dissolved, but cities would fundamentally rethink what officers are asked to do. Coverage:

  • Evolution: This used to be more of a thought bubble among activists and academics on the left, but it's been going more mainstream in recent years, and the Floyd case has cemented that, per the Washington Post. The city of Minneapolis, for example, is taking steps to disband its department and New York City is cutting the NYPD budget, reports Newsweek. Still, the meaning of "defund the police" is on a spectrum, a Yale sociology expert tells CNN, with some definitions more radical than others.
  • A book: The movement has brought renewed attention to the 2017 book The End of Policing, by sociology professor Alex Vitale of Brooklyn College. "I'm certainly not talking about any kind of scenario where tomorrow someone just flips a switch and there are no police," he tells NPR in an interview. "What I'm talking about is the systematic questioning of the specific roles that police currently undertake." Most burglaries, for example, are driven by drug use, he notes. Better drug-treatment programs could help ease that.

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