More in Community Voices:
Guest opinion by Sue Frost–
The killing of George Floyd was horrific — and the officers responsible have been arrested and will stand trial. But now politicians and activists are blaming everyone in a uniform. “Defund the police” has become the rallying call for protesters.
Activists want to strip money from law-enforcement, disband police, close jails and prisons, then divert public funds to community groups, counselors, and social workers for “community empowerment.”
What does that mean? It means instead of the Citrus Heights Police Department and sheriffs enforcing the law, taxpayer funds will go to private nonprofits run by activists and programs like “Advance Peace,” which pays gang members $500 a month not to shoot each other.
How will reducing the number of police officers make Citrus Heights safer? In 2018, police officers nationally arrested 11,970 murder suspects, 495,900 violent criminals, and more than one million drunk driving suspects.
In February of this year, a months-long investigation resulted in 518 arrests when police smashed a human trafficking ring and rescued hundreds of children who were being sold into prostitution.
Do activists think that counselors and community groups are going to detain violent gang members, break human trafficking rings, or get drunk drivers off our roads? No alternative to an organized, well-funded, and well-trained police force offers enforcement ability on such a high level.
In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti recently announced that he was going to “defund police” by cutting $150 million from the LAPD budget. Cities like San Francisco, Portland, Minneapolis, and Baltimore have announced that they will pursue efforts to “defund police.” Political “leaders” in Congress and State houses have echoed the call and introduced legislation to cut funding for law enforcement — or punish jurisdictions who refuse to do so.
The vast majority of police budgets go to personnel, so the budget cut means one thing: firing police officers. Which officers will be fired? A common practice for addressing mass budget reductions through layoffs — and that has been used by the LAPD in the past — is LIFO (last in, first out).
That means that Garcetti’s “defund” policy will result in firing recent recruits — young Black, Asian and Latino officers who were recruited from, and reflect, the very neighborhoods who are underrepresented and suffer the most from crime.
Sadly, this movement is not new. In 2015 Camden New Jersey pushed a “defund police” measure. They dismantled their department and disbanded the police officers’ union. They placed some activists in oversight positions and hired most the police back — at a lower salary.
Some believe the effort was really more about breaking the union than reforming the system. Today, many of the same complaints have returned.
Eliminating law enforcement is the opposite of a solution — we cannot abandon our communities to the whims of gangs and criminals who prey on neighborhoods.
We do need to encourage investment in poor neighborhoods where crime is rampant, schools are failing, and hope is abandoned. Empowerment zones, school choice, and incentives for investment have seen tremendous success.
Communities that partner with police, rather than fight with them, have seen a marked improvement in crime reduction, complaints against police, and more recruitment of people from the community into law enforcement — community members who have relationships and earnestly want to make lives better — and have the training to enforce the law.
This rush to respond to “defund police” activists is not reform — it is retribution and appeasement. And it is dangerous. The result will be every community and every resident will be less safe.
We need more community engagement and understanding, not less. We should be investing in more training, recruiting, and community engagement, not eliminating prisons and defunding police.
Sacramento County Supervisor Sue Frost formerly served as a Citrus Heights councilwoman and currently represents District 4, which includes Citrus Heights. She can be contacted at (916) 874-5491, or SupervisorFrost@saccounty.net.
Want to share your own thoughts on this topic or another local issue? Submit a letter to the editor or opinion column for publication: Click here
Thanks for reading The Sentinel. You are either trying to access subscribers-only content or you have reached your limit of 5 free articles per 30 days. Click here to sign in or subscribe.