- Two veteran police officers, Dennis Slocumb and Vincent Vallelong, argue that there are only losers in a world without police. Street gangs and thieves would take over parts of the country where no form of law and order exists, they say.
- Meanwhile, Republican Sens. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz believe “working class” Americans would be disproportionately impacted if activists who support abolishing the police get their way.
- Many activists have pushed to defund the police in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Some say the slogan is a call to reallocate funds rather than abolish police all-together, but a some say they want to abolish police forces entirely.
Abolishing the police would create an ugly world, one in which highwaymen, street gangs, and warlords fill the vacuum where an officer once stood, according to two veteran law enforcement officers and several GOP lawmakers.
“I don’t see there being any winners, and the losers will probably be the future generations of kids and their kids and how life will be for them growing up,” Sergeants Benevolent Association of New York Vice President Vincent Vallelong, a long-time veteran of the New York City Police Department, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Many activists have pushed defund the police during demonstrations against the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in May after a police officer kneeled down on his neck for nearly 10 minutes, a video of the incident shows. The officer, Derek Chauvin, was immediately fired after the incident and faces second-degree murder and manslaughter charges. (RELATED: Debate Rages On Police Reform, Role Of Police Unions In Wake Of Floyd’s Death)
The protests kickstarted a movement to defund the police, but the precise meaning of that phrase isn’t clear.
Many activists maintain that they are not necessarily interested in abolishing law enforcement when they call for defunding the police.
“The slogan may be misleading without interpretation,” Al Sharpton said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” June 8. “I don’t think anyone other than the far extremes are saying we don’t want any kind of policing at all,” he said.
To many, defund the police means cutting law enforcement budgets and directing funds toward social programs, or a form of community policing, which would require a willingness to embrace an alternative form of public safety.
“So much of policing right now is generated and directed toward quality-of-life issues, homelessness, drug addiction, domestic violence,” Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza said in a June 7 interview on NBC.
“What we do need is increased funding for housing, we need increased funding for education, we need increased funding for quality of life of communities who are over-policed and over-surveilled,” Garza added.
Some activists, on the other hand, have argued that abolishing police is the best and only solution.
“I’ve been advocating the abolition of the police for years,” Mariame Kaba, an anti-criminalization activist who heads a grassroots group called Project NIA, wrote in a June 12 editorial for The New York Times.
“Regardless of your view on police power — whether you want to get rid of the police or simply to make them less violent — here’s an immediate demand we can all make: Cut the number of police in half and cut their budget in half. Fewer police officers equals fewer opportunities for them to brutalize and kill people,” Kaba wrote.
Roughly 64% of Americans oppose defunding the police, according to an ABC News poll published on June 12.
Kaba’s strident position has created too much noise and distracted from the more moderate voices in the discussion, according to Vallelong.
Vallelong, who called what happened to Floyd “disgusting,” said policy changes are needed that address police brutality while also considering the police’s role in society.
Americans can expect to see the kind of chaos currently happening at Seattle’s Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) on a wide scale, said Vallelong, referring to the small neighborhood in Seattle, also known as the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest.
“Some people took law into their own hands (in Seattle) and became the sheriff or a warlord,” Vallelong said referring reports of a strong leader in CHAZ. “You’d have different factions. Basically, gangs that would sprout up all over the place and take over certain areas … People would be shaken down.”
Vallelong said, “If they think cops are bad now, imagine the corruption and people dying and the violation of their civil rights if you do get rid of police as a whole.”
Another veteran officer expressed similar sentiments.
“The predators would devour the prey, and when the prey are gone then they would devour each other,” Dennis Slocumb, vice president emeritus of the International Union of Police Associations, told the DCNF. He is a 32-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
“If they want to improve the police departments — and so do we — then recruit the best people,” Slocumb said. Banning the police is like a “scene out of a Blade Runner movie or something,” he added.
“If you don’t want the police to be in your neighborhood, then you better get used to the crooks being there,” Slocumb said before noting: “We want to solve the problem of police officers misbehaving as much as anyone.” The police officer involved in Floyd’s death never should have been an officer, he added.
A lack of law enforcement could lead to hiring private security enforcers to protect property, but that likely wouldn’t make things safer, according to Vallelong. “Hiring private armed guards when you are armed with more armaments than the individuals who are coming to take whatever it is from you,” he said. “Still does not make you safe.”
Democratic Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez faced criticism recently for using police officers as security over the past two months while calling for the department to be defunded, Spectrum News 1 initially reported June 9.
Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, offered up a similarly bleak vision as Vallelong in a June 12 National Review Online op-ed.
“David Dorn’s tragic death is a stark reminder that the costs of this radicalism will be borne not by the many elites who advocate it but by the working class of all races — both those who are most vulnerable to crime and those who staff our police forces and protect our neighborhoods,” Hawley noted.
“The truth is, American elites don’t fear violent crime because, increasingly, they don’t encounter it,” the senator added. “Rather than make high-crime neighborhoods safe and habitable for the people who live there, urban elites demolish them and put up luxury high-rises for the upper class. And from the safety of a luxury loft, policing becomes an abstract concept.”
Hawley’s Republican colleague, Sen. Ted Cruz, suggested minority communities stand to lose the most if the move to defund the police is successful. “Calls to defund the police are radical, out of touch, and dangerous. The people who have the most to lose by defunded police departments are the communities who need them most,” the Texas Republican said in a June 10 tweet.
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