Calls are growing to defund the police. For some advocates, that means divesting from law enforcement in favor of supporting communities. Others want to dissolve departments entirely. Both ideas center on reimagining policing as we know it.
“I definitely think there are partnerships to be made and there's opportunity to be had, but that reimagining really first comes with having the resources to dream,” said Isaac Bryan, Executive Director of the UCLA Black Policy Project. “Right now, we don't have that because over half of our budgets, the discretionary funds go to law enforcement and policing.”
Bryan says he'd like to see more discussions about restorative or transformative justice and alternatives to incarceration.
Bryan says Minneapolis has opened the door for these conversations. The city council there is actively working to disband police, despite pushback from the mayor.
An advocacy organization gives us a better idea of what that might look like.
MPD150 says first responders should be mental health providers, social workers and other community members. It argues law and order would be better served through education and services that low-income communities typically lack.
That's something Bryan agrees with, pointing to the high arrest rates of those experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles.
“We're using our resources the wrong way and that's a clear-cut example that I think folks in this city and in large municipalities can think critically about,” said Bryan. “What if we used that money to build housing, or to feed folks, or to provide other pathways to opportunity.”
Former vice president and current Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden says we don't need to cut funding but increase it. His campaign argues more spending is necessary to help improve law enforcement and community policing.