Defunding Police: Good or Bad Idea?
When I first heard about defunding police, I thought “what kind of idea is this?” I didn’t mean this in a positive way. But when I decided to find out what proponents were actually saying, it caused me to think more soberly about the idea.
Wikipedia defines defunding the police as “a slogan that supports divesting funds from police departments and reallocating them to non-policing forms of public safety and community support, such as social services, youth services, housing, education, healthcare, and other community resources. Activists who use the phrase may do so with varying intentions; some seek modest reduction, while others argue for full divestment as a step toward the abolition of contemporary police services.”
So let’s begin with the most extreme lobbying from activists, that being abolishing contemporary police services. I know that this conviction comes from those that witness extreme police brutality of minorities, especially African Americans, most notably the death of George Floyd. But does inappropriate and even criminal behavior by police warrant this type of response?
The answer for me is a firm NO! To do away with the police because of the bad actions of some would lead to societal anarchy. Think through this with any other profession. If there are a percentage of doctors that don’t treat or ineffectively treat minorities, do we do away with the medical profession? Dear God, I hope not! Having bad judges that are prejudice, does that mean we throw out the entire court system? This is unthinkable.
The Scriptures even back up the view of supporting government. Romans 13:1-5 puts in this way. “Obey the government, for God is the one who put it there. All governments have been placed in power by God. So those who refuse to obey the laws of the land are refusing to obey God, and punishment will follow. For the authorities do not frighten people who are doing right, but they frighten those who do wrong. So do what they say, and you will get along well. The authorities are sent by God to help you. But if you are doing something wrong, of course you should be afraid, for you will be punished. The authorities are established by God for that very purpose, to punish those who do wrong. So you must obey the government for two reasons: to keep from being punished and to keep a clear conscience.”
It seems clear from this passage that all government is good and we should abide by whatever laws are made. But is this the whole story?
Like any passage of Scripture, it only gives an ideal, but not the complete picture. Ironically, even Paul, who wrote Romans, was arrested many times by disobeying the government, because he, like the other apostles, felt that obeying God was a higher priority. We also know that many of the kings of Israel in the Old Testament were described as evil. So the Romans passage while true and helpful isn’t the all encompassing principle in every case.
Going back to a more moderate reduction, those activists say that police shouldn’t be put in the position of dealing with someone mentally ill, as an example, because that is not their training. So in situations like that, the police should call a mental health expert to come out and diffuse the problem. These activists are arguing for a reallocating of funds, not a complete do away with the cops.
I think that idea has some merit and here is why. In today’s modern American system we ask people to do way more in their professions than what they are trained. Before my wife retired from being a public school teacher, she not only taught, but had to fill out a zillion bureaucratic forms, which took up so many hours that she was essentially working seven days a week. Then there was talk that teachers should be trained on using and having a gun, so if there were any crazy people around, they could then defend themselves and their students. They are teachers, not bureaucrats; teachers, not security guards!
Police are here to protect and serve, not be mental health experts. So if funds need to be reallocated for services that help the police do what they are paid to do, and not have them be all things to all people, I think it would take stress off of the men and women who put their lives on the line every day.
I also believe that funds be allocated for police to be better trained in dealing with minorities and other new ethnic groups coming to America. This “sensitivity” training will help our men and women in blue do better of what is increasingly a thankless job.
Yes, there are bad apples in the police profession, officers that think they are God’s representative to do whatever they want. But I truly believe that is a minority and not the vast majority who do want to “protect and to serve.” At the same time the minority is significant enough to warrant more accountability, so all of our citizens can see the authorities as the good guys.
At the end of the day I am not pro police or pro defunding, but pro what is right. Shouldn’t we believers always take that position?