Before we “defund” or “abolish” the police, let’s consider George Floyd.
After bad cop Derek Chauvin slowly choked Floyd to death, other cops hauled Chauvin to jail the moment charges were filed. They would later arrest three other cops who stood by and allowed the killing.
When peaceful demonstrators gather in the streets to protest the killing, police officers uphold their First Amendment rights to do so.
After the Supreme Court forbade school segregation, police officers enforced the ruling. When the 15th Amendment ensured black people the right to vote, police enforced the ruling.
When three men plotted last year to bomb Somali immigrants in Garden City, Kan., law enforcers arrested them and prevented the violence. When a Colorado man plotted to blow up Pueblo’s Temple Emmanuel Synagogue, federal and local law enforcement found out and prevented the crime.
We can talk rapes, murders, domestic abuse and armed robberies. A comprehensive list of police officers preventing crimes and hauling criminals to justice would fill library shelves.
Our way of life depends on law enforcement upholding everything from civil rights laws to property rights to our right to criticize politicians. Even our right to worship depends on the professional men and women of law enforcement enforcing the law.
Given our dependence on law enforcement, the new “defund the police” and “abolish the police” movements — reactions to Floyd’s apparent murder — might be the worst ideas to emerge in anyone’s lifetime.
This is not an agenda limited to activists on the fringe. U.S. Rep. Rashida Talib, D-Mich., openly advocates defunding police in tweets.
New York State Sen. Julia Salazar, a “Democratic socialist,” told The Guardian it is “really very encouraging” how many politicians, even those “who aren’t even necessarily on the left,” support significant defunding of law enforcement.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti wants to slash the city’s police budget. Newsweek reports on a growing list of celebrities pledging their support for defunding police, including John Legend, Megan Rapinoe, Lizzo, Jane Fonda, Natalie Portman, Jameela Jamil, Yara Shahidi, and more.
A Minneapolis-based organization called MPD 150 wants to abolish law enforcement officers and replace them with “social workers,” “religious leaders,” “neighbors and friends,” and others “who make up the fabric of a community.”
“Cops don’t prevent crime; they cause it, through the ongoing, violent disruption of our communities,” explains MPD150.com. The group insists we won’t have violent criminals to contend with if we abolish every cop.
The Colorado Legislature is targeting police with a sweeping reform bill that would make a career in law enforcement so risky few sane individuals would pursue it.
Passed through committee by a 3-2 vote Friday, the Enhance Law Enforcement Integrity Bill would allow predatory lawyers to bring suits against cops holding them personally responsible for alleged civil rights violations. Officers would live in fear of losing their homes and life savings if they make a mistake, or are wrongly accused, in doing their jobs.
The bill would eliminate Colorado’s “fleeing felon” statute, which protects officers who shoot armed suspects who might otherwise turn on them or bring imminent harm to the community.
Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle testified he never would have encouraged his son, a Douglas County sheriff’s deputy, to pursue a law enforcement career if he thought a bill like this might get signed into law.
Like all professions — ministry, coaching, teaching, and more — law enforcement attracts a fraction of bad actors. It appears one bad cop in Minneapolis murdered a black man suspected of a $20 crime as three other bad cops looked on and did nothing to stop it.
Most people, including law enforcement professionals, are outraged, sickened, and horrified by Floyd’s killing. Justice must be served against everyone responsible.
We don’t serve that justice by gutting law enforcement agencies that had nothing to do with this atrocity. If we do so, we will only see more lawlessness.
We will have fewer resources to enforce the laws intended to keep this country safe from crimes — including the one that killed Floyd.
Americans are understandably in a heightened emotional state after the murder in Minneapolis. This is not a good time to make sweeping and emotionally charged decisions that fundamentally change the way society works. Nixing law enforcement, or tying officers’ hands, would be a mistake nearly all would regret in short order.
The Gazette Editorial Board