DENNARD: When You Defund The Police, You Destabilize Urban Communities

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Paris Dennard Contributor
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Editor’s note: We endeavor to bring you the top voices on current events representing a range of perspectives. Below is a column arguing that defunding the police will destabilize urban communities that want more, not less, policing. You can find a counterpoint here, where Spence Purnell, a policy analyst at Reason Foundation, argues that police departments in the United States need long-term reforms to overcome systemic racism, especially an end to the War on Drugs.

Defunding America’s police departments is dangerous. Stripping resources away from local law enforcement will lead to animosity, increased lawlessness and have a disproportionate impact on urban communities that actually need them the most in a truly devastating fashion. Taking this destructive course of action will not lead to justice, or any closer to building that more perfect union we all want.

This radical movement of defunding the police will not result in the systematic change many of the honest, concerned and passionate Americans have been peacefully protesting for in response to the death of George Floyd. But somehow both Los Angeles and New York Democrat mayors, Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Val Demings and the Minneapolis City Council seem to think this is a good idea. Once again, the presumptive head of the Democrat Party, Joe Biden, has shown his nonexistent leadership during a crisis. He tasked a mid-level aide to send a weak statement, but thus far, he has remained silent on this matter.

At least two Democrat lawmakers have thus far rejected this extremist action. DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot know they need the police now more than ever to restore law and order so that we can have peace and justice.

In fact, according to a report from Gallup and the Center for Advancing Opportunity, a Washington, D.C.-based research and education initiative supported by Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), 68% of Chicagoans in lower-income communities surveyed wanted to see more police in their neighborhoods. You can’t have that if you defund the police.

Part of this reckless movement to defund the police is to remove them from schools. If the safety of our children against people wishing to do them harm is a priority, then why would we move to provide less options for their security? Moreover, it is not as if police are only present for protection, there is an education component that could be lost.

I grew up in Phoenix, AZ and participated in a program called Gang Resistance Education And Training (G.R.E.A.T.), which is a school and evidence-based gang and violence prevention program where law enforcement officers actually instructed the classroom curricula. This program has been around since the late 90’s and shows how funding the police can actually meet the needs of the community to help educate younger Americans.

Ultimately, people are demanding action and change from their local leaders who are responsible for many of the hiring and training decisions that occur in these cities. The only way you can have change and action is to do so from within, working with the system and not fighting against it.

My hero was Walter John Richard Dennard. My Papa grew up in the segregated South, where he experienced racism and discrimination, but never had a victim mentality. He taught me to have a strong work ethic, serve God, respect everyone, never forget my history and always fight for what is right and be a leader for my community from within any organization.

Advocates of defunding the police should instead call on people within the communities to join the police force. In Phoenix, we had a black Police Chief named Harold Hurtt, and officer involved shootings actually decreased. Today, Phoenix has a black female Police Chief named Jeri Williams, so I have always seen minority representation in my local police force.

The point is, if we had more people from within the black community signing up to protect and serve not only will we have more black cops represented, but it will allow for us to ultimately be the change we would like to see within the police force and police unions.

If you think your Democrat leaders are appointing the wrong people, not listening, taking your vote for granted or doing nothing to create more opportunities for your community, then consider voting in a candidate who will.

In the heat of the moment, cool heads should prevail because they are focused on long-term goals. Today, that goal is justice, action, mutual respect, prolonged peace, economic opportunity and quality schools. None of those things can be accomplished when riots, violence, and looting plaque urban cities and their citizens do not feel safe. Defunding the police will bring about chaotic change not impactful action.

Paris Dennard is a GOP political commentator, strategist, and Senior Communications Advisor for Black Media Affairs at the Republican National Committee.