• Jennifer Jade Merrihue

UNDERSTANDING “DEFUND THE POLICE”


I didn't understand #defundthepolice.

Even though I am infinitely behind BLM, this seemed a little scary frankly.

So I researched it.

I hope this inspires you to do the same in general. When you don't understand something, research it BEFORE you offer your opinion.

Otherwise, what you are sharing and spreading is your fear.

Your fear, based on movies like The Purge and other fantasies.

So here is what I found.

I stand behind it 1000%.

Like in any relationship, staying in something that feels familiar feels LESS terrifying than risking pursuit of something better. Even if what is familiar to you is violently abusive, keeps promising to do better, and then kills a bunch of your friends and family.

That is currently what societies relationship with the cops is looking like, disproportionally to Black people and POC.

Changing the system might feel VERY scary because we don’t know what a different system would look like.

We have been massively expanding a broken institution specifically in the neighborhoods that need more resources not more police discipline and authority.

You cannot punish addiction out of someone.

You cannot discipline schizophrenia out of someone.

You can’t discipline homelessness out of someone.

And yet increasing police force has been our response to these pressing issues.

Increasing police presence in places that need resources puts crucial problems like homelessness, gang violence, mental health, domestic abuse, addiction, youth services, into the hands of police officers with no extensive education in those immensely complex subject fields.

Are policemen getting any mental health support themselves?

If the answer is no (and even if the answer is yes) are they getting extensive training on dealing with or facilitating aid for someone with mental illness? Addiction? Trauma? Homelessness? If the answer is no, THEY HAVE NO BUSINESS DOING IT.

As police presence was increased, funding decreased for: Schools Social workers Mental health practitioners Addiction Counseling Homeless Services Youth Services

ALL THE THINGS THESE PLACES ACTUALLY NEED.

Redirecting some resources would lighten the load on police officers.

They wouldn’t have to act as untrained, ill-equipped, makeshift social workers, mental health + addiction counselors, and homelessness counselors.

The weight and expectation of all that is TOO LARGE.

If they are not getting trained for YEARS on mental health, THEY cannot be the ones enforcing mental health “solutions” in ANY neighborhood.

Their job is to POLICE active crime. Laws being actively broken. Not to provide extensive services to people that need them the most.

To get your Ph.D. as a therapist, you would have to study for at least 5 YEARS of intensive study and hands-on supervised work to be allowed to interact with someone struggling with mental health or addiction issues.

Keep in mind a therapist MERELY TALKS TO SOMEONE ABOUT THEIR MENTAL HEALTH, AND THEY NEED 5 YEARS TO DO IT LEGALLY, IN A WAY THAT won't CAUSE DAMAGE.

Police HAVE NO BUSINESS touching, engaging, disciplining, regulating, incarcerating someone with mental illness, addiction, more…

Think about HOW much pressure we are putting on cops.

There is no way a policeman can help a person struggling with heroin addiction or a person who is suffering from bipolar disorder.

Yet when someone is having drug issues we put them in jail.

When someone is on the street having a bipolar meltdown - we call the cops.

IN SO many ways, this response makes the problem worse. Introducing someone who is addicted to drugs to a complex network of OTHER drug users or sellers IS NO ANSWER TO the complexities of addiction.

Putting someone with bipolar or schizophrenia in jail will only likely pour a thick layer of trauma on an already impossible daily reality.

So no one is asking to have all cops fired. THAT is not what this movement is about.

Instead, it’s about diversifying SOME of the millions of dollars that fund the police in order to implement other community-specific services that would SUPPORT THE POLICE and support the people of each individual community.

Doing this makes sense. We need preventative measures.

Police authority cannot solve homelessness, addiction, mental illness, and police brutality- which are many of the SOURCES of crime. This approach is not working and is resulting in death and violence.

In your personal life, if you kept trying one strategy towards your life goal and it kept resulting in death and violence, would you keep doing it?

PROBABLY NOT.

This is no different. Again, it’s not about firing all the cops and letting the world dissolve into anarchy. It’s about DIVERSIFICATION.

Making sure that impoverished neighborhoods get needed RESOURCES, not just MORE authority figures, is crucial.

Another detail in defunding the police is- neighborhood specific services.

This means employing people within a community to solve problems within their community.

If you have a cop coming in from outside a community, who has never lived there, doesn’t understand the culture, the people, nor the delicate needs of that environment- you will most likely get a cop that feels he can only depend on his authority to try and do his job effectively. This invites a high alert tension that probably contributes to impulsive, irreversible, defensive action.

IT is NOT fair to that cop, it is dangerous for the people affected by a cop put in that position, and it's not working.

The logic: Someone FROM within a neighborhood is more highly effective and invested in working on solutions, preventative care, and systemic support for a community THEY understand, care about, and live in.

This would also provide jobs to people within every community.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST, I QUOTE JOHN OLIVER on people criticizing the protesters over the looting vs. the police force:

“If you are asking why spontaneous decentralized protest can’t control every one of its participants more than you are using the same logic about a taxpayer-funded, heavily regimented, paid workforce (the police) then you can go f* yourself”.

For a VERY brief introduction to why black neighborhoods are disproportionately dealing with poverty, health issues, housing, addiction, lack of resources, and educational issues, ON TOP of police brutality- CLICK HERE (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0OwEVPwy7TU).

And then go do more research. It’s horrifying.

John Oliver breaks DEFUND THE POLICE down beautifully and with a dash of hard humor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wf4cea5oObY

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