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  • Carolyn L. Baker

What Does it Mean to "Defund the Police", Anyway?

Updated: Jul 2, 2020

Law enforcement is a difficult job. Among my family members is a police officer, a deputy sheriff, and a California Highway Patrol officer. Each pledged to lay down their life to protect and serve if needed. And in the line of duty, each of them has faced traumatic accidents and situations continuing to haunt them to this day. They are personally committed to honor, respect, and accountability.

With that, I’d like to start with what “Defund the Police” does not mean. Is does not mean close all the police departments and end policing. It does not mean all police officers are bad, it does not mean we should close all the prisons.

What "Defund the Police" does means is, with all the massive resources invested in policing, social safety has not improved. "Defund the Police" is a demand for evidence-based, measurable improvements in public safety for all. A quick look at the budget of any country, state, county, city, or household shows what it values. A budget shows what activities are of the highest priority. "Defund the Police" means, plainly and simply, to reallocate its budget to invest in more upstream social services to prevent people from experiencing downstream violence and harm.

Responding to a demand for near-term justice and long-term systemic change, the Mayor of Los Angeles announced a reallocation of its policing budget, and the creation of the first-ever Civil and Human Rights Department, and a Civil and Human Rights Commission. An Office of Racial Equity is now established to conduct research, outreach, and policy development. In this way The City of Los Angeles will apply an equity lens to everything it does, a commitment to guarantee equal treatment for all its residents in private employment, housing, education, and commerce. Such reallocation shows the City’s consideration of the Rights of all races. This is an example of what it means to "Defund the Police."

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