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Demosthenes's avatar

What would "defunding the police" really look like?

This question has been asked before, but I would like to be able to ask it again given the rapidly-evolving political situation that has been this year. Mods please don’t delete this.

The slogan has been implicated as a cause of the Democrats’ poor performance in down-ballot elections. Leftists insist that this is a scapegoat and that defunding the police is a winning message. Many Democratic politicians, including Joe Biden, have made it clear that they do not want to defund the police.

The problem is: “defund the police” is a protest slogan, not a policy proposal. So for those who do support defunding the police: what would that look like? Is “defunding” the same as “dismantling/abolishing”? Does it mean “demilitarize” but otherwise leave the police the same? “Overpolicing” exists in both poor and wealthy neighborhoods. The area I grew up was notorious for its bloated police force that spent a lot of time pestering white teenagers.

What is the actual policy change that would occur? What specifically would be defunded and what would the alternative to policing be?

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