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To defund the police, activists rewrote city budgets (citylab.com)
138 points by SamWhited 32 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 239 comments

Changing the laws to end 'qualified immunity' is much more important. Demilitarizing the police is also important. Maybe defunding would help with that.

Watching police impose an excessive curfew on 10 million people (LA county) and then round up hundreds of peaceful protesters last night was sickening.


These people expressing their first amendment right to assemble should have been protected not persecuted. Police are out of control.

Yeah. After the onslaught of videos over the past few days and seeing, over and over again, how the police have so terribly dehumanized people (i mean, they’ve absolutely taken the mask off and are straight abusing people with no shame, everywhere, across the whole country) I can’t help but wonder what kind of slow but steady damage they’ve done to communities over the years.

I mean, I’m decently well off and spend most of time in pretty well off areas, but if the cops are combative in well off areas, you know it’s just so much more awful in other areas.

Seeing the Minneapolis council members say the police regularly directly retaliate against them if they don’t offer full unwavering support [1] shows we have a very very big problem on our hands. And Im seeing similar messaging from mayors and council members from towns all across the country. I’ve always known they were abusive and needed to be dealt with, but this may even be much worse than I ever would have thought. Between officers placing their union leader’s orders as a higher priority than actual appointed police chiefs and then these pleas from the council members, Im not yet sure how we should address this.

[1] https://www.twitter.com/MplsWard3/status/1267891878801915904

and another council member simply affirming that it’s true.

[2] https://www.twitter.com/CunninghamMPLS/status/12679203742070...

> Im not yet sure how we should address this

We could start by banning police unions. Make individual officers accountable for their own behavior. Fully transparent data collection on everything they do. Turn some of our fancy machining learning technology loose on that data to identify the bad seeds and weed them out.

How about a separate agency that is accountable to citizens who has the power and mandate to police the police? Not just another department of the existing police, but someone accountable to the governor, or the citizens directly.

At some level I would expect that good cops want this accountability as much as the general public does. Is it really true that cops are predominantly bad? I sincerely hope that is not true.

Also, stop expecting police officers to be social workers. Police officers project force, power and violence on behalf of the state. Migrate a subset of law enforcement officers to social work positions. That is assuming that crime doesn't spike in the process.

Wouldn't doing that imply we expect police officers to behave the exact way they're behaving now? How does that help?

Isn't it better to expect police officers to provide an actual benefit to society, and construct laws from that point of view?

Was speaking with my Co-worker from Beijing earlier today, apparently many (all?) neighborhoods have dedicated officers that focus just on solving social problems in that community. Seems like a great idea in theory.

That's true, that neighbour watch officer is also an extra pair of ears for the government

That’s a good idea as well. I just read a couple of articles (They’re back at my computer so I don’t have links handy, sorry) and apparently the Minneapolis mayor has put together a task force on different ways to completely dismantle their police force and build it from scratch–I suspect an idea like yours would fit in nicely, take some of the current forces overblown budget and redirect a bit more of the funds towards programs which are aimed at making a community healthier rather than an enemy.

I think these are absolutely all things which need to be included in the (likely long) list of things to be done, but my suspicions are that the most difficult thing to address is going to be that a tremendous fraction of the police view american citizens as an enemy (And no, I don’t think that’s hyperbolic, I think these past few days demonstrate this pretty clearly.)

And I’m absolutely not discounting your thoughts, those need to be done as well.

What a fucking mess.

When you mentioned retaliation, I assumed the police would be roughing people up or harassing them over trivial offences or something. (Classic TV examples: going wild on parking or DUI enforcement at a targeted politician's fundraisers).

But this is a work slowdown.

"We should have less policing."

"Okay, here's less policing."

Isn't it the point of "defund the police" that fewer incidents get a police response?

I have seen examples where the police union was able to turn off the 911 service and simply give a phone message that said something to the effect of, "we wish we could help you, but your city council has denied us funding".

The curfews in our area were put in place by elected officials as the violence was out of control at night. This was not a police action.

The Constitution provides a right to peaceful assembly. It does not provide a right to violence and looting. During the day people who wanted were and are generally able to march and peacefully express their views.

The violence was not out of control last night.

Case in point the video above showing hundreds of police officers surrounding peaceful protesters. I am offended by the massive waste of resources.

Case in point news helicopters not filming looting (as they would rather do) . The only thing left to film that night was the true protest. Made so so clear in the video above. The abuse of power if you can't see it you're blind.

This proves the curfew was ordered under false pretenses. And demonstrates a complete lack of judgement and common sense by law enforcement.

I mean, I'm very much in support of the protestors, but...

They can't exactly institute a curfew after things get out of control. And they have gotten out of control across the country in the previous nights.

No doubt there were a lot of good faith / peaceful protests that were shut down and hindered, but there has also been a lot of looting. Here are couple good long form videos showing some of the looting in and around Santa Monica on a couple of the days:



You don't just get to ban good behavior to stop bad behavior. The presence of illegal looting does not take away constitutional rights. If it did, the government would have incentive to incite riots and looting to force the breakup of peaceful protest.


I agree to a point, but I do think depending on the scale of the lawlessness that temporary measures such as a curfew can be reasonable in order to avoid large scale destruction and violence

Perhaps the violence was not out of control because the police were better enabled by the curfew in previous days and apprehended/scared off most of the troublemakers? The rioters and looters proved the curfew was necessary. The video seems like it is proof the police are more than willing to treat people with respect if they themselves are not being violent or enabling of those who are being violent.

In Chicago, they were looting. They were burning things. They set over 80 fires and killed 20 people over the weekend. Not a single one of those fatalities was caused by a police officer.

No one wants the world you're asking for:


>The Constitution provides a right to peaceful assembly. It does not provide a right to violence and looting.

Looting and violence are already illegal. Catching the peaceful right to assembly, and arresting otherwise law abiding citizens, as collateral damage does not make those people trust the system more, who were already civilly disobeying the curfew order.

Someone will fight the citation on constitutional grounds. Did the ends justify the means? Could the police and national guard handle looting and rioting without curfew? If peaceful protesters are out at night causing cover and distraction for looting and rioting, is the only answer curfew?

> It does not provide a right to violence and looting

Buddy, what do you think the revolutionary war was?

Is your suggestion that the rioters and looters (and I make a strong distinction here between those people and peaceful protesters) are in fact an attempted insurrection and should be responded to as such?

I'm saying the fact one is looting does not a priori mean one is not making an effective, coherent, justified political argument. Wealth distribution is political. Property is political.

FWIW, arguments like this come across as a craven justification that is motivated by pure partisanship. We've all seen the videos. Trying to justify looting only undermines the defense of peaceful protest.

At what point is looting the response to wealth inequality. Does looting ever become justified when the feedback loop of lobbying, plutocracy, and tax code get out of control?

Looters, rioters, and arsonists would have a stronger arguments if their attacks were targeted, and not against small businesses and local grocery stores. Vandalizing Gucci and Dior sends a very different message than destroying single location restaurants.

Comparisons of this to the Boston Tea Party omit that it was an extremely targeted attack that allegedly self policed against collateral damage to other businesses.

"The People should never rise, without doing something to be remembered—something notable And striking." - John Adams

How is my justification craven - "lacking in courage or cowardly"? What do you think I am hiding from? I am open and forward about my desire to abolish cops and prisons to anyone who asks.

What is willfully ignorant is pretending violent protest does not (also) achieve results, or that violence can never be justified without "undermining" peaceful protest. Both are legitimate.

> We've all seen the videos.

Yeah, of cops murdering people for decades. You want craven? It's anyone who capes for anything the cops are doing now, including any negative discussion of looters.

Fuck the police. Once we're done with that, we can talk about your broken window.

Street violence always ends up benefiting the State. Looting plays right into the hands of the State justifying a military response to civil unrest. Nothing’s going to push a moderate to the right like an angry mob outside their door. And there are a lot more of them than there are of you.

The curfew was ordered by the mayor, an elected official (LA in the case of the video you linked), not the police.

Curfews are ordered by mayors and enforced by the police. The distinction, in this case, isn’t very relevant.

Especially when you watch the press conferences you can practically see the mayors’ puppet strings being pulled by the police chief standing next to them. Chicago was exactly the same. They know who the real power is.

Police chiefs are also elected.

You are confusing police chiefs with county sheriffs.

I am not. It's not universal, but many municipalities have an elected police chief.

Overall, it seems less common than you aver. What percentage of cities do you think have elected police chiefs?

Name any US jurisdiction with an elected chief of police.

San Angelo, Texas.

It used to be more common, but most places switched to appointment by the mayor or city council or city manager. Now it is mostly just a handful of scattered cities in a few states, with the exception of Louisiana where I believe they are still mostly elected.

The city I live in, Santa Clara, has an elected police chief. It's common, though not universal.

My personal view is that police should maintain their qualified immunity, because unfortunately sometimes the use of force is necessary to enforce the law. However, they should also have a duty of care toward citizens that overrides that immunity in addition to mandating that they actually do protect and serve. Castle Rock v. Gonzales[1][2] really needs to be reversed or legislatively overturned.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_Rock_v._Gonzales

[2] https://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/28/politics/justices-rule-po...

I disagree. Police should never be the aggressors, and force should be proportional. Otherwise, they are legal bullies.

15 steps from a defense attorney including ending QI:

1. Abolish qualified immunity

2. Require police for carry malpractice insurance

3. Use pay incentives to get a better breed of police officer

4. Incentivize community policing

5. Make "Brady lists" public record

6. Abolish cities' sweetheart deals with police unions

7. Require de-escalation in Use of Force policies alongside public, transparent training on de-escalation

8. End "tail-light policing" entirely

9. Mandate a separation between the crime response units and investigative units in a department

10. Automatic special prosecutors for all police brutality incidents

11. More frequent USDOJ intervention

12. Expand data collection and mandatory reporting on use-of-force incidents (and other police activity generally)

13. Enact statutory protections to restore the 4th / 5th / 6th / 8th Amendments

14. Scale back, or eliminate entirely, "contempt of cop" statutes

15. Stronger sentencing for police misconduct offenses


Curtailment of QI should come first, but defunding the police in a vacuum will be very dangerous as long as the power of civil asset forfeiture exists. You may remove tax money from the police budget, but that just sets up a perverse incentive to confiscate more cash and property to make up the difference.

Curtail QI _and_ civil asset forfeiture, and we will have set the stage for real policing reform.

Civil forfeiture works "best" in small jurisdictions harassing driver-bys who aren't constituents, right?

I think we can go for defunding in the major metros (which also have the more powerful police departments in absolute terms), and then go after the smaller jurisdiction police (with more relative power) with/after fixed laws.

Also, if the police are curtailed in the urban areas, and Covid fear lowers the rent, poor persons of color can "vote with their feet" and move from Fergusons to Saint Louises. Not the best solution, but I can't imagine a friendly supreme court too soon so this is better than nothing.

Funding brings the police to the negotiating table faster and harder than some years-off change in law/precedent or union contract negotiation. That is as valuable as the actual defunding.

The right has defunded programs they couldn't abolish for years. It's a tried and proven strategy.

But how does defunding actually change the rules? The police still seem to be above the law even after defunding.

It's not the only thing to do, it's one of several things to do. Defunding reduces their access to weaponry and equipment and hinders recruiting. It's a big step toward abolition.

We live under Capitalism---let's use that to our advantage. Less money begets less power.

It's like energy in physics. You can worry about all the (perhaps more fundamental) mechanical, chemical, etc. interactions, or you can trust the conservation of energy and not fret over the details.

The abstraction works pretty well. Use it.

Qualified immunity is only civil. Individuals should have the right to file criminal charges against those with special legal privledges, overriding the DA.

I am wondering to what degree would actually work. As I understand it, lots of the most egregious equipment is picked up essentially as federal gov't / military "leftovers", and while it's nominally sold or auctioned off there's not exactly a lot of potential buyers. So cutting your local police force would just mean the one next door buys twice as much, and cutting everywhere just decreases every buyer's budget so the price just drops.

I suppose in this case we see the money going to programs that would, y'know, maybe at least help some people - assuming it doesn't get pitched directly into middle-class tax cuts, which seems more likely to me in any large city. But I don't see exactly how budget reduction would have any noticable impact on militarization.

I think it’s a crucial distinction that the police did not impose the curfew. The politicians imposed the curfew and ordered the police to enforce it.

After the multi-month long shutdown for COVID (and the very questionable justification for pushing 40 million healthy people out of their jobs) I think a several day curfew to limit widespread rioting and looting is both relatively minor and highly targeted by comparison.

But even if you disagree with the curfew, it’s not the police that imposed it.

> These people expressing their first amendment right to assemble should have been protected not persecuted.

I'm against the curfews, but where was everyone defending the right of people to protest the covid-19 lock-downs? I'm against a curfew in principle

> Police are out of control.

No they are not.

Are the proposed laws out to eliminate it fully or just for police officers? As a general matter, qualified immunity is an important protection for some kinds of government activities.

Questions to Non-US based HNers: Does your country/locality have something like Quantified Immunity? What does your area do about police brutality if/when it occurs?

In the UK, there's the IPCC (Independent Police Complaints Commission). Unfortunately, it's not all that independent, since it's generally staffed by ex-police officers. So the outcome of police brutality is more or less the same as it is everywhere - a lot of smearing, lying, then ultimately, either a slap on the wrist, or a promotion, for the culprit.

I think the problem is ultimately deeper than police culture and/or lack of checks and balances. The problem is simply that police, by the very nature of their job, must be violent. There is simply no other way to deal with the level of desperation a society like the US causes. They live and work every day in a milieu of all the worst, most desperate behaviours capitalism has to offer. Untreated mental illness, drug problems, dysfunction of every kind - all articulated in a completely insane legal system that seems almost purposely designed to consume vast numbers of people and vast quantities of money while doing nothing but harm.

So when people get upset with police for their brutality, it's easy to understand why they are outraged - it is simply impossible to do their job without violence.

When people point at German police, or UK police, and say, they're not so bad - what they're really pointing at is a different job. German police kill people, or turn out to have connections to far-right groups, or beat people at protests - but ultimately, the average german is less desperate, less well armed, and simply less dangerous than the average person an american police officer must work with. That's simple statistics. That American police have built a culture around violence (the 'warrior' thing) is a pretty obvious result of the fact that they are caught in this bind, where violence is necessary for the society to stay in its current state, but where they are constantly castigated for its use.

> So when people get upset with police for their brutality, it's easy to understand why they are outraged - it is simply impossible to do their job without violence.

I think you need to distinguish between force and violence. I expect the police to occasionally need to use force to do their job, but I never want them to use violence. What we have been seeing during the past few days is totally out-of-control violence conducted by the police on non-violent people.

Walk, chew gum

People focus so much on presidential elections, but the intrusion of freedoms and use of force against the citizen is largely at the municipal and state level.

Also, I've noticed that people care greatly about misspent federal dollars, and don't seem to notice when all local city or county contracts go to someone in the local government's brother or cousin.

I know the federal dollars are larger, but the disconnect is just astounding.

What got me involved in local politics was when the local county board asked a group of us to write a grant for federal and state dollars to fund a rural transportation program. This would be curb to curb service, at a very low rate. Turns out we were the only county classified as 'rural' in our state that did not have this grant.

They brought us in 2 months before the deadline, after 5 years and 10 months of doing nothing with the grant but sitting on it and not publicizing it. They were confused why we couldn't put together a multiple-hundred page research document in two months.

I was confused why they seemed so slapdash with this process. Until I realized one of the board members' brother and sister owned the only 'taxi' service that served areas outside of the 'city'.

What a mess.

I live in the Bay Area, which as you probably know has a shortage of new housing construction. The town I live in has a councilmember that is a staunch opponent of state-level housing regulations and regularly votes against new housing projects in the town (or votes for less units, more difficulties on the developer, etc.)

Surprise surprise, the councilmember, and her husband, are both realtors with a personal interest in keeping the housing market tight. And of course, no recusals when it comes to discussing policies or issues that she would benefit from as a realtor.

The number of conflicts of interest at the municipal level is crazy, to the point of being depressing sometimes.

What’s the town in question, if I might ask?

In my area the city had been paying the owners of a golf course thousands of dollars every year to have first dibs on the rights to purchase that land if and when the owners ever decided to sell it.

A few years ago the golf course owners finally decided to sell. The mayor of the city (a real estate developer) decided that the city did not want to buy that land...and then bought the land for himself in a private transaction.

Didn’t anyone loudly proclaim the conflict of interest?

Most likely nobody knows. This is unfortunately what happens when local newspapers disappear; there's no one else around to discover this stuff.

This is the answer. Local media is owned by two families, one of which sits on the board.

It's small town politics at its absolute finest.

This is an incredibly important point in this debate. Almost all of the institutions people want to change are controlled at these lower levels of government. Even with federal legislation, all of the implementation will be up to lower level governments. But most of the things people want to change can only be changed at the City level, they're outside the federal governments jurisdiction.

Crucially, this means that a lot of these issues can be addressed without navigating party politics. There are plenty of cities and states that are controlled top to bottom by one party (they exist for both parties). So either party should be able to more or less unilaterally pass these changes.

IMO if you're not talking about fixing this at municipal and state levels you're more interested in party politics than fixing it.

This is a really good point. Local elections may be even more important, and are definitely easier to have an impact on. Local governments also - from my anecdotal impression - seem to have a lot more corruption, probably because they often go ignored.

Both parties focus all attention on the national level. (Also, Democrats are especially hampered as the things they want tend to require congressional action more.) It's a toxic exercise in impotence, dejection, and at best, change with is still very slow and indirect.

Anything that focuses energy at the local level is a huge step. Both parties will be caught with their pants down. Issues are concrete and visceral, and do not require a high education to understand. It is by far the best way to fix the governance of this country.

Local issues have a history of been deemed non-partisan, which means the everyday conservatism of single family zoning, hyper local funding of everything, etc. could rot out the culture completely by stealth post-WWII even before the more well-known rise in policing and decline in social services began the 70s and 80s.

All elections are important. State and local laws can't protect you from federal policy, and so the presidential election is arguably as important as any other, if not more important related to individual rights. As the president picks Supreme Court nominations, which are approved by Congress, all of these elections are important. The Supreme Court has been instrumental in reinterpreting existing laws, in order to make explicit how laws are meant to work and be implemented. This has caused things like gay marriage to now be legal, which is clearly consistent with our Constitutional values spirit; the letter of the law was used to discriminate contrary to the intent of the law.

It's not like those happen in a vacuum though. The tone the executive branch sets for policy affects local decisions as well.

also the funding

This is a great book I just read about this very subject: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07TD6FVHG

I'm sure if I worked at a company like Facebook, my day to day work-life and experiences would be primarily dictated by my managers, and perhaps their managers. But at the end of the day, Zuck is at the top, and people ultimately listen to him.

Not to knock your point. Political activism needs to be local, but there is a reason there is so much focus on the president. I don't think it is unwarranted.

The president has literally zero influence or control over what happens in local police departments.

To be clear, "defunding" here doesn't mean to zero, just defunding most.

As the chart shows, reducing a city's police spending from 53.8% to 5.72%.

I mean... I'm actually shocked to hear that policing is a majority of the budget. That seems wild. Surely a twentieth of the budget is more in line with legitimate needs to fight crime?

I think the chart is misleading for those just seeing it in isolated form on social media. It doesn't include education budget because that is not discretionary. The school budget is 4x the police budget. I'm not exactly sure the right way to show what to include and not to include - but think it is a bit misleading to represent it this way.

If I was running a company and didn't show the cost spent on salaries or office space it might look like we were spending a ton of money on coffee.

(I am in favor of reducing militarization of police - just offended as a statistician!)

Frankly the fact that education is only 4x the budget of the police force is depressing in itself.

Again - I think this is misleading and I should have specified. In California, most of the money for schools comes from the state.

So, when I say school budget from LA is 4x the police budget, that is just covering the 21% and 12% part of this graph. Doubling the LA school budget would only increase the total school budget about ~33%

Again - if I was in charge I probably would lower police budgets and raise school budgets - but I think those sharing the slices without being informed are doing a disservice.

Source: https://ed100.org/lessons/whopays

I would love to be corrected on some of these issues, but in general looking at just discretionary funds from a city and ignoring all other funds will lead you to some wild conclusions.

Depending on the state, education might not be the city's job at all. It might be a separate level of government entirely.

It's hard to make comparisons like this because obligations and reporting methodology can vary wildly.

as you may be alluding, i suspect the education budget is even more bloated than the police budget. it could probably be reduced 80%, and if done sensibly, have no measurable effect on educational outcomes. a lot of that budget is probably spread across administrative overhead, security theater, and bandaiding other societal problems (food aid, healthcare, social/psychological services, etc.)

i'm not suggesting we shouldn't help the disadvantaged, but that it's inefficiently misallocated under education, masking the severity of those issues in some cases.

I'm really not suggesting education should be cut! I just think the chart is silly because it pretty much finds the smallest subdivision of the budget that includes all of the police budget but doesn't include things like education. The desired effect of the chart is clearly for people to think "Damn - half my tax dollars are going to the police and nothing to health services" when that isn't close to being true.

Additionally, while Los Angeles in particular could increase its budget for homeless shelters and a few particular resources, I don't see it as the city's job in particular to cover all social problems that can be better handled at a state or national level. Police everywhere are largely funded locally so again it is a bit comparing apples to oranges.

I was pretty surprised also, so I checked my city (Mt View, California). Police is 28% of the budget here. The next biggest category is the Fire. Department, which is 18%.

I think top level city concerns are police, fire, and community services (libraries, parks, etc.). Lowering police spending to under 10% seems a bit low.

Note that in California, school budgets are separate from the main city budget.

[1] https://www.mountainview.gov/civicax/filebank/blobdload.aspx...

Is Mountain View particularly high crime?

I'm starting to think responding to crime with police is the wrong approach. By the time police are involved, the crime has usually already been committed. It seems like there should be far more focus on preventing crime with social services and economic and health interventions. The police should be our last resort, not our first.

Nope, pretty typical for a suburb. It's in Silicon Valley.

Sounds like it could be lowered below 10% then

I don’t know. The city doesn’t have much else to spend money on. The next biggest thing is Fire Department, but we don’t have many fires. Then there are parks and libraries and such, but those are pretty low cost.

You could probably cut some funding from the police but it doesn’t seem like a huge misallocation.

Maybe rental assistance? https://www.mercurynews.com/2019/06/20/mountain-view-adopts-...

I know how affluent much of Mountain View is, but surely there are some that are struggling.

Cities don't really have budget to give out cash. If you took the entire police budget (about $50M/yr), you'd only have enough money for $10k/yr for 5,000 individuals. If you have a $10k/year rent subsidy available in Mt View, lots of people from neighboring cities would want to move there to claim the subsidy.

It's not a solvable problem by a single city, even if you believe in cash transfers/UBI.

These objections don't seem as strong to me as they seem to you.

> you'd only have enough money for $10k/yr for 5,000 individuals

5,000 out of the 80,000 total individuals seems to be a sizable number, no? Even 2,500 seems like a lot when your population is so small. Nobody claimed the problem is solvable by a single city, but it seems like you could easily make a difference at the margin.

> lots of people from neighboring cities would want to move there to claim the subsidy.

You could have some process that gives preference to existing residents of a certain period of time, I doubt many poor people living in the area would move to a city and live there for a certain time just for a chance to get a rent subsidy.

This problem of "people moving here to claim benefits" is both generally overstated and pretty easily solved by a number of cities.

I mean... it's just not the responsibility of cities to redistribute income.

In addition to people moving in, you have people paying high taxes who will move out to neighboring cities without this tax. I don't want to pay a 5% wealth transfer tax.

This idea is based on some sort of pseudo-socialist view of the world, except implemented at the worst possible level (municipal). Cities deal with keeping crime down, building roads, etc. They're not here to implement a socialist wealth transfer program.

If they cut the funding to the police who will be there to keep the homelessness epidemic out of Mt. View?

Uh.. is this in jest?

It reads like sarcasm to me

I really hope so.

Maybe it is not particularly high crime because police get 28% of the budget.

Mountain View police took more action against drug abuse than against robbery, rape, aggravated assault, and homicide combined by over a factor of 2. [0] They only cleared 60% of those violent crimes.

Maybe they should redirect more of their budget to investigating violent crime. What's the evidence for your conclusion?

[0]: https://www.mountainview.gov/civicax/filebank/blobdload.aspx...

Maybe, maybe not. Why do you think your naive intuition as to the correct proportion to fight crime is so well calibrated?

It seems ridiculous to me that you would feel a need to disagree over the mere fact that OP has an opinion. It's just so dismissive to call a person's opinion naive without offering any counterpoint or constructive criticism.

It was a sincere question. It’s a model of the world they put forward. I want to know why they think it’s well estimated.

I mean I don't know enough about these issues, but on the surface an order of magnitude reduction in budget seems pretty big.

Would you say reducing budget by 90% may have any impact on crime levels? Or do you prefer a citizen self-defense patrol to an organized police force?

>To be clear, "defunding" here doesn't mean to zero, just defunding most.

You should talk to some of the people advocating these policies. They mean what they say, which is the police budget should be zero. While I'm sure some thoughtful activists exist, and some referenced in the article seem to be, it's going to become impossible to control the fringe who just want "more".

People who advocate for "defunding" to zero generally want some sort of replacement violence/crime prevention force, but think rebuilding from the ground up is a better form of affecting that sort of change.

The problem is that none of it is consistently communicated. Maybe something like "let's replace the police with XYZ, this is why A, B and C" vs "defund the police".

Shortly after college I lived in The downtown area of a suburban town, now I live San Francisco. In the small town a cop would drive by every 30 min all night long. Sometimes the only thing driving by was the cop. The town had one Public murder in ten years. Here in SF I see the bus more often than a patrol car. Don’t under estimate white peoples ability to be scared about nothing.

Surely the racial swipe is not necessary here and doesn't add very much to the conversation

It's far more than a swipe -- it's very relevant. If you look into the history of police, they started out as slavecatchers. Vigilantism quickly caught on and white folks were given implicit authority to question the origin, destination, and qualifications of any black person they happened to come across. You can follow the unbroken thread of this culture and attitude to today.

Police institutions today are a manifestation of the fragility of the white ego when confronted with black people with ambitions. They will ignore black folks who stay "in their place", i.e., don't leave their neighborhoods so white people don't see them. It is when black people attempt to assert socioeconomic mobility that the white folks quickly mobilize.

One of the impetuses for Brown v. Board of Education was that white administrators shut down the entire public school system so that "equality" was achieved in that both white and black students couldn't access public schools. Following vehement outcries from both black and white parents, they started handing out tax-funded vouchers to the white families only to attend private schools, which is how the charter school phenomenon became such a big idea. Betsy DeVos and her family are perpetuating this essentially segregationist system today, with tokenized and very public displays of "see it's not a racist system because sometimes black children win the lottery too!"

As we still operate in this society I had a kneejerk reaction and feel almost obligated to add a "not all white people" clause, which only reinforces the points made above.

Here are resources for the people who are reacting to the language I'm using:

Dr. Robin DiAngelo, who literally wrote the book on white fragility https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45ey4jgoxeU

Prof. Carol Anderson on the closely-related concept of white rage https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBYUET24K1c

No, they didn't actually write a budget in any meaningful sense. They sent out polls on social media [1] and asked respondents to rank four categories they invented, three of which are unfocused concepts about what a civic government might do:

1. Universal Aid and Crisis Management

2. The Built Environment

3. Reimagined Community Safety

…and one category which covers an actual budget item:

4. Law Enforcement

I should add that in order to take this survey, you had to decide to click through a web page that says "We demand that the Mayor and City Council prioritize care NOT cops", which... may have skewed the results somewhat.

Then they used those ranking to arbitrarily move numbers around. They decided to skip over some important things like, I don't know, having a fire department, or how they're going to pay for the pensions of those thousands of now-unemployed police officers.

[1] https://peoplesbudgetla.com/survey/

Except that minorities are the first victims of crimes, so defunding the police will likely have the opposite effect, impacting the hardest the people who cannot afford private security.

Yes, exactly. Defunding the police seems really short sighted. Maybe reallocating funds; less equipment but more personal with better training? Maybe revising some of the manuals?

I hated the cops when I was a kid. I saw friends get stuck with hundreds if not thousands of dollars in fines for pot. But those laws have started to change, and that's more important as far as rights and equality go.

Police shootings have been going down, and most police departments want body cameras because, in the past few years, they've shown how many police shootings were entirely justified (a lot of criminals, both black and white, and really dumb).

I no longer hate the police today. I even know a few and talk to them and really, I think more police should be encourage to just do stuff in their community and get to know people.

This current era is an interesting situation, because the police do not have the actual manpower to defend all affected areas. It's being covered in a political blanket and doused with a healthy dose of propaganda and outrage, and that really should not dictate practical policy.

In a different thread, you say that allocating funds away from police will likely not reach a useful end. In this comment, you seem to say defunding the police is short sighted. Could you help me understand your full position on police funding and defunding in order to fund other programs? It seems like your two statements are mutually exclusive.

It’s sad that people are too ideological to realize that minorities are going to bear the brunt of woke yuppies whose lives don’t depend on these services even remotely as much.

They are already first victims of crimes . Crimes may increase against them, it depends on what gets defunded , For example if it is military equipment they have is getting unfunded I don’t see how that is going really increase crimes

Even if it does increase crime, I would prefer to pay after the guy beats me up or shoots me, rather than pay his salary and pension as well

The vast majority of individuals from minority groups will almost never call the police. As evidence has shown from the past week, if you call the police to keep looters from raiding your shop, the police will show up and arrest you.

This is perhaps a fixable problem - there are areas where the police are generally more trusted - but it's a problem nonetheless and you see police departments themselves own up to it when complaining about things that jeopardize their relationship with minority communities (like CBP/ICE pretending to be local PD)

I think this is becoming less and less true. "Sanctuary cities" are basically just cities that don't ever detain people the additional 24 hours for INS/ICE; so that minorities are more forward with calling and talking with police.

You go to both minority and non-minority neighbourhoods all over Chicago and there are signs say "We call the police." I'm pretty shocked at the anti-police rhetoric here in Chicago personally, considering all the PR efforts they put in and how involved a lot of police are in the community.

If CPD has a lot of positive press out there I've certainly missed it. In the last five years alone:

- Homan Square interrogation facility revealed where CPD detained suspects without access to a phone or lawyer

- Laquan McDonald murder and subsequent charging and conviction of Jason Van Dyke, only after dash cam footage provoked a public outcry

- CPD Superintendent ousted after being found asleep (possibly drunk?) in his running car at a stop sign.

- FOP (CPD Union) elects new president who is on administrative leave(!) and is one of the most frequently disciplined officers in CPD. Also has history of making public comments defamatory towards minorities / low income.

- State's Attorney vacates ~100 drug convictions based on false evidence from disgraced ex-CPD Sergeant Ronald Watts

- Damning DOJ report that lead to a consent decree

These are just things I can recall off the top of my head. They do not have a particularly good reputation.


> According to data analyzed by watchdog organization Better Government Association, two-thirds of the 70 people killed by Chicago police from 2010 to 2014 were African American.

> “We’re the epicenter of police crimes and torture,” said Frank Chapman, executive director of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression and a longtime Chicago activist. “We have one of the largest police forces in the nation and their record in terms of the African American community is despicable.”

> A 2017 Justice Department report investigating the Chicago Police Department found officers used force almost 10 times more often with black suspects than with white suspects.

Some of this is properly shocking.

> The city has paid out over $662 million in settlements for police misconduct cases since 2004, according to The Associated Press. It includes payouts to victims of Jon Burge, a police commander who, along with a group of subordinate detectives, tortured dozens of African American suspects from 1972 to 1991. Many times, the tactics, including near-suffocation by plastic bags, shocks by cattle prods and beatings by flashlights, were used to elicit false confessions.

Yes, as shown from the viral and exceptional video during widespread looting, we can make population level inferences about subjects we otherwise don't personally study or pay attention to.

Smells like ideology to me.

EDIT: Downvotes don't change the fact that you didn't read the article. Nobody is advocating for 'the purge'. Read the article or stop replying to my comment.

EDIT 2: If you're too lazy to read this article (it's dense, I get it), here are some others:

- https://www.newsweek.com/defund-police-movement-growing-here...

- https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2020/06/03/457251670...

Take the rod out of your own eye. What do you believe and why? Is it based on facts?

Step back for a second. Some of these cities that are currently being ravaged by riots in the US are being run by left/liberal democrats. In places like Chicago/Detroit, they've been run by black democrats for years!

It is about class. They are well off minorities in power who are using the system to keep themselves in power, just like their non-minority counterparts. They are part of the problem. What if this is less about race and more about class (and yes, systemic racism is likely leading to more black people being kept in that lower class, but that's actually a slightly different issue).

In a period of extreme civil unrest, do we really need less security? Disbanding the police didn't work in Iraq. It turned things to chaos.

How about just more police, with less guns, less expensive vehicles, and get rid of all private prisons?

(I've responded to another comment in more depth if you're interested in that sort of thing.)

> How about just more police, with less guns, less expensive vehicles, and get rid of all private prisons?

How about we disarm all street cops (think 'parking enforcement officer'), end the war on drugs, and spend our money on things that actually help: healthcare for all, housing for all, public transportation, and social programs.

> Disbanding the police didn't work in Iraq.

I'm not familiar, could you share a link? I'm not sure that I understand the parallel, especially if you're thinking of the Iraqi Republican Guard ("elite troops of the Iraqi army directly reporting to Saddam Hussein" [0]).

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republican_Guard_(Iraq)

Would you be an unarmed cop in America with the prodigious amount of legal (and illegal) gun ownership?

The fact that you're asking me a question like that illustrates that you haven't read anything that I've said.

Community self-defense is absolutely necessary, and I'm not taking the position that acts like murder should be shrugged off. No amount of healthcare and housing and social programs will completely eradicate anti-social behavior, and at the end of the day we need to maintain public safety.

My point, which has been echoed by the various links that I've shared (and the article (which you're commenting on (which you should read!))), is that the vast majority of public safety problems don't need to be solved by the police. Quoting an article, because explaining this repeatedly is getting exhausting:

> Part of our misunderstanding about the nature of policing is we keep imagining that we can turn police into social workers. That we can make them nice, friendly community outreach workers. But police are violence workers. That's what distinguishes them from all other government functions. ... They have the legal capacity to use violence in situations where the average citizen would be arrested.

> So when we turn a problem over to the police to manage, there will be violence, because those are ultimately the tools that they are most equipped to utilize: handcuffs, threats, guns, arrests. That's what really is at the root of policing. So if we don't want violence, we should try to figure out how to not get the police involved.

People experiencing mental health crises don't need cops, they need social workers. Someone with a broken tail light doesn't need a cop, they need someone who can quickly and safely replace their tail light.

There are a small number of situations where public safety might require violence, but police officers are over-armed and under-qualified for the vast majority of calls they show up to. Last year the most common 911 call in my city was for an "unwanted person" [0], which I understand to mean 'experiencing homelessness', where cops really can't do anything to help. I'm optimistic that our communities would be better served by less-armed and more-qualified professionals who can use tools other than violence.

[0]: https://www.wweek.com/news/2019/02/06/portlanders-call-911-t...

Your starting assertion: "The fact that you're asking me a question like that illustrates that you haven't read anything that I've said" is unnecessarily combative.

I was basing my question on the part of your comment where you suggested:

"How about we disarm all street cops"

I am generally in agreement that many first line encounters between cops and civilians could be better served by social workers, EMS, etc. but was curious about the idea of unarmed police in the US and how that might play out, especially in situations where the civilian is armed (which is not always known by dispatch nor the cops themselves, until it's too late).

> where the civilian is armed

Nitpick: Cops are civilians too. Every time the cops show up, the community has to deal with an "armed civilian".

> situations where the civilian is armed (which is not always known by dispatch nor the cops themselves, until it's too late)

Cops aren't the only government employees that interface with the [potentially armed] public though. Parking enforcement officers don't have guns, and it doesn't seem to me that they're regularly ambushed. I've found three cases where this has happened, although I'm sure there are others:

- Campus parking officer stabbed my school janitor (https://nypost.com/2018/06/29/campus-parking-officer-stabbed...)

- Ex-Federal Protective Service cop gets intoxicated and shoots at parking enforcement (https://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/shots-fired-at-park...)

- "Man with AK-47 approaches parking officer during argument about tickets" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDJ4OsYXul0)

Anyway, yes, there are lots of people with guns, and that means that they may act erratically (to neighbors and government employees).

Showing up with guns and threatening them with violence makes many people behave more erratically, not less, and my hope would be that we don't have to worry about "what if that guy has a gun" because 'maintaining public safety' means replacing their broken headlight rather than giving them a ticket and a court date and demanding to search their vehicle while you're at it.

It's an experiment. We will see. If it fails, we can always raise funding again.

Would you mind going into a little more detail? I'd like to better understand your position.

Sure: literally zero people who want to defund the police think that we should just snap our fingers tomorrow and fire every cop. The article explains this, but if HN commenters have the unfortunate habit of responding to the title rather than the contents.

Quoting an open letter [0] that's uncontroversial in 'defund the police' circles:

> Black communities are living in persistent fear of being killed by state authorities like police, immigration agents or even white vigilantes who are emboldened by state actors. According to the Urban Institute, in 1977, state and local governments spent $60 billion on police and corrections . In 2017, they spent $194 billion. A 220 percent increase. Despite continued profiling, harassment, terror and killing of Black communities, local and federal decision-makers continue to invest in the police, which leaves Black people vulnerable and our communities no safer.

>Where could that money go? It could go towards building healthy communities, to the health of our elders and children,to neighborhood infrastructure, to education, to childcare, to support a vibrant Black future. The possibilities are endless.

>We join in solidarity with the freedom fighters in Minneapolis, Louisville, and across the United States. And we call for the end to police terror.


> 1. Vote no on all increases to police budgets

> 2. Vote yes to decrease police spending and budgets

> 3. Vote yes to increase spending on Health care, education and community programs that keep us safe.

Nobody wants a situation where law enforcement magically disappears at midnight and we devolve into 'the purge'. We want to take the money spent on violence and spend it on solving problems instead of criminalizing symptoms. There's a nice Q&A by the author of The End of Policing [1] if you want to a more casual overview, although the ebook [2] is currently free.

[0]: https://www.defendingblacklives.org/defund-police-sign-on/

[1]: https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2020/06/03/457251670...

[2]: https://www.versobooks.com/books/2426-the-end-of-policing

Some figures for police budgets in US cities:

City of Orlando spends 31.6% of its budget on police. Oakland spent 41 percent of the city's general fund on policing in Fiscal Year 2017. Chicago spent nearly 39 percent, Minneapolis almost 36 percent, Houston 35 percent.


These figures seem remarkably high compared to other spending.

I'm a Houston resident. In a recent election there was a ballot measure which would affect the pay of Houston firefighters. In particular our firefighters were getting paid less than our police. The ballot measure was supposed to increase firefighters' pay to match. It was accomplished... but didn't meet the budget I guess. So firefighters were laid off instead. Here's [0] a related news article about it.

[0] https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/...

Also Houston resident. That whole thing was ridiculous. The problem goes back many years. Municipal and Police blew up the pension budget to something unsustainable through a variety of tactics, and firefighters got nowhere near the amount of cash that those two departments got. Then like 20 years ago when all of the cities in America started defunding pensions and then the chickens came to roost, Houston started issuing crazy bonds to keep up with the police and municipal workers, and firefighters actually had a decent fund that was mostly self sustaining and didn't require external funding as far as I know. Something super high like 90% of their pensions were fully funded.

Then when Houston made budget cuts recently, they disproportionately cut firefighter pensions even though they were mostly responsible and funded, but I guess it looked like a stash of cash to the city. Keep in mind firefighters had previously made pay raise sacrifices to ensure their pension benefits continued. So they wanted the pay raises back since the pensions got cut, and they got laid off (and also some raise was given).

It's because of what "police" means in the US compared to other countries. In the US, police are the backstop for every social ill and woe. Homeless and housing problems? Police. Mental illness? Police. Communities in poverty? Police.

So the budget is huge because the scope of their organization is huge. They are a band-aid for a myriad of political failures.

One of the big ideas of the "defund" movement isn't to pocket the money but direct those funding streams into other places. For example, instead of having police tackle homelessness, why shouldn't some of that budget go to affordable housing?

Except that there's a complex system or corruption that got things into that state. Moving money from the police will probably not be spent on anything beneficial, but instead into what ever political agenda comes up next.

If, as you're saying, a complex system of corruption has affected where public money is spent, isn't that actually a great reason to question the legitimacy of police budgets and consider pushing for that money to be spent elsewhere?

I'd rather have it earmarked for something else then. The police can apply for more funding if and when they can justify it with facts and figures instead of feels over reals.

I mean but they have the money now, they applied for it surely. They must have convinced a city council at least that it was justified. I'm certainly seeing a lot of feels in this thread.

I'm not American, so forgive my ignorance, but what are the budget responsibilities by level of Government? In Australia, there are really clear divides.

Country -> defence, welfare. State -> Education, roads, public transport County (council) -> parks, local infrastructure, approvals (for building).

Same with taxes, where the federal government is the only body allowed to apply most taxes (like income tax), which they then pass through to the states. In Australia, the Federal government raises the money, and the states spend it.

Without having any idea how the US system works, what are the budgetary responsibilities of the City of Orlando vs the state of Florida vs the federal government of the USA? It seems weird to an Australian that the police are funded at such a low level. Is that in addition to state spending? Is there no state spending on police?

Without knowing what the budgetary responsibilities are, I have no idea how to contextualise "31.6% of its budget", and I wonder if many Americans could either, as knowledge of this level of government funding arcana would be, well I'd think pretty rare.

The short answer is that it's a huge mess and very different everywhere. Any gov layer could be collecting taxes or not. You could have sales tax, or not. You could have property tax, or not. You could have excise tax, or not.

You won't even have consistent definitions for boundaries. In other parts of the country, you won't find much in the way of towns/cities and the county is a very important government function. In Massachusetts every bit of land belongs to a town and "counties" are really only there to define court districts, nothing more.

NY is a really weird nesting doll of bureaucracy. You'll have state > counties > cities/towns > villages. All with their own leadership, boundaries, tax structure, etc. Speaking as a Bostonian, New York looks insane ;)

Numbers the article lacks. In 1993 the LAPD budget was $555m, or $985m today. The proposed budget for next year was $1860m, almost double. The population of LA has increased about 15% in the interim but the number of reported crimes fell from 80k/year to 30k/year. The real-dollar cost per crime reported has gone up more than 5x.

Not sure if this was your point, but you just made a case for keeping the funding. Funding went up between 1993 to today, and crime went down by 50k reports per year, even as the population increased. Read another way, funding doubled, while crime reports were cut by more than half, even though the population went up by 15%.

I know this is potentially a case of correlation doesn't equal causation, but if your goal is to argue against police budgets, these aren't the numbers to use.

> The real-dollar cost per crime reported has gone up more than 5x.

Yes, but that's a terrible way to look at something. You're not trying to reduce the cost per crime reported; you're trying to reduce the crime reported itself. That's going to take more money to accomplish, so the cost per crime going up is a good thing. It means you're getting good value for money.

EDIT: Doing some simple math, the cost per crime today is way less than the cost per crime back in 1993, according to your numbers. Drastically less.

(for the record, I don't know enough about this whole situation to have an informed opinion; my gut feeling is reducing the funding of your peacekeeping force by drastic amounts in a short time frame during a time of unrest is perhaps not wise)

Please feel free to ignoring the fact that cost of living in LA has gone up above inflation rate. Check your bias at the door please.

"For example, the Bureau of Census reports that the average price of a new home in January 2000 was $194,800.4 According to the inflation calculator, that price in January 2020 should be $297,705.3 The same report places the average sale price for January 2020 at $402,400, more than 35% higher when accounting for inflation alone."

Great, now do the LAUSD budget. It has gone up less than baseline inflation in the same period. So why are police getting a huge real-dollar increment in their budget while schools get none?

i'm all for people’s budgets over police-oriented budgets. yesterday's take two† had councilman mike bonin talking about LA's budget, also calling out the increases in police budget relative to cuts in services that could soften the economic devastation we've seen this year.

incidentally, the covid response (lockdowns, fear-driven justifications, selective enforcement) and the protest response (needless curfews, calling in the national guard, selective protection) has really revealed LA mayor garcetti's weakness as a leader, someone who runs to use of force at the slightest provocation. with such authoritarian tendencies, he needs to exit stage left.


Really defunding the police is a natural punishment for their repeated failures and lack of accountability. If more funding doesn't get better results, and the purse strings don't even get responsiveness to their needs then why bother beyond a bare minimium?

Even a temporary measure to bring them to heel and forcing them to recognize who is really in charge could be useful for relations.

> Even a temporary measure to bring them to heel and forcing them to recognize who is really in charge could be useful for relations.

The police have a trump card. There really are bad people. And force is required to stop them. In protest, they can just slow walk all calls and say this is due to the budget being cut. If crime rises in the cities, people are going to blame the city leadership. Remember that a lot of the “tough on crime” emphasis of the 90’s came because of rising crime in the 70’s and 80’s. People hate chaos.

Yes let's de-fund the police. I am sure that will have no impact on future police recruitment or their general sense of appreciation for that matter. Which I am sure will have zero impact on their willingness to put their lives on the line when they are actually needed.

I think it's important not to hate the police. If there are problems with the system, it's the laws that need to be changed. We're seeing that right now with marijuana laws, and it is having an impact.

We can do the same by at least offering better programs for people arrested for meth/opioids. More free treatment. If they fail out, fine, go back to the jail route, but give people a chance to at least try and choose.

The police do take a lot of money, but we're also seeing more money go to teachers/schools, working-class city workers (garbage, sewer, public works). That's not always a bad thing, but if you break down the numbers, you can often find corruption everywhere (like a school district superintendent taking like a $300k income).

I think the focus on police is the wrong policy choice right now. That's not the core issue. It's everything else.

The police have frankly earned every last scintillia of their hatred from their actions and lack of accountability.

We don't accept a rapist or fraudster blaming society for the damage they do to get the sex or money they want and we should certainly hold actual authorities to higher standards instead of lower ones. The system being messed up does not negate their own moral agency and deriliction from it. To acquit them is even worse than even "just following orders" but an utterly insane "it is unfair that I am being judged by the intentions and outcomes of my actions taken on my own initiative".

First of all: "The police have frankly earned every last scintillia of their hatred from their actions and lack of accountability." Is just ignorant. The VAST majority of police are wonderful people who have dedicated their lives to helping others. Secondly, you have no idea what the stakes are for anyone who is following orders, and it could vary from: none at all too: not being able to pay for their child's leukemia treatments.

Wow, no, following orders for a paycheck isn't acceptable. I think most of us felt that was definitively decided at Nuremberg.

There are many other ways to get a paycheck that don't involve, well, all that we keep seeing on the news.

Thank you. I see too many "I was just following orders" arguments in the internet.

Eh. I am assuming you meant to type defund so I am responding to that interpretation.

I will open by saying that putting life on the line is part of their job description ( not unlike firefighters ) and they get appropriate social credit for that. In other words, it is literally their job. It is what they signed up for.

Yes, thank you for spotting that mistake. In any case, police barley make enough money as is.. they could always just not become police, and then where would we be? I fact, if they were smart they wouldn't become police. It's a terrible job, and is currently being attacked en masse from almost every direction.

We may not be looking at the same data sets[1]. Median $54k across US ( $75k in my state ) does not strike me as not making enough.

But let's say I agree completely. How much would be enough?

[1] https://www.careerexplorer.com/careers/police-officer/salary...

You think 54k/year is enough to risk your life every day? Would you do that? How about we start at 300k/year, and work our way up to 500k/year from there? This is the actual problem with society. We value our computer programs over our social workers. Without video games this world would be a better place. Without cops it would be absolute chaos.

Hmm. There are people asked to come back to work minimum wage right now and shat upon, because they are fine riding it out with unemployment. I am just saying. No need to get indignant.

Oddly, I am kinda ok with it as a test run, but:

1. Where do you propose to get the money from?

2. How would you offset that cost ( I doubt you are proposing we keep the same amount of officers at that salary )?

And here is a thing, for a 500k I expect a stellar, pristine cop and none of that bad apple crap.

Edit: Afterthought, I am not sure you really want to get rid of video games now.

1. The same place it currently comes from, our tax dollars.

2. With more taxes.

At the very least we could add an additional 500k/year into police training... thereby increase the value of our current officers by x amount and tack that onto the end of their current salary. What I am getting at is that the logic of de funding them is literally the opposite of what we need.

Sorry for not responding sooner. Dog demanded attention.

I was honestly hoping something a little more detailed so you will need to excuse me for relying on publicly available data. I am focusing on IL, because some that data was already pulled by other posters and it happens to be my state.

Share of taxpayer debt in IL as of 2014 was $28,600[1]. It did not decrease since then, but we will use it for calculations. As you can imagine, that starting point is not exactly conducive to suggesting tax increase of any kind without some details regarding where exactly those funds are coming from.

Now, CPD funding in 2018 was $1,600,000,000.00. In 2018 CPD had 13,500 employees. Median salary for officers in IL is $75,720 ( and higher in Chicago, but we will run with it ). Based on that employee cost was $1,022,220,000.00

You are proposing starting salary of $300,000 with a difference from 2018 median of $224,280 resulting in almost tripling employee CPD cost to $3,027,780,000.00

That number adds $1123.91 per resident using 2019 Chicago population of 2,693,976 ( sourced from wiki ) or $2,698.77 per tax payer ( I could not find good info on net payer vs net taker, but maybe that would needlessly complicate it ).

So your proposal puts the tax payer further in the hole with share of tax payer debt in IL rising to $31,298.77

Again, not an easy sell, but maybe there is a greater good to be gained. So what does the tax payer get out of this deal? It is an honest question for you. Be as specific as you can.

Now onto your larger point, that "logic of defunding them is literally the opposite of what we need." How so? Please elaborate. I have cops in my family so I am definitely not unbiased. But I am looking at where we are and cutting the police force down to size is almost exactly what we need right now.



edit: almost to tripling; it was a little off

Pizza delivery guys have higher work death rates than police. We should be paying the delivery guys at least as much.

I think 2020 will go down as the year, that housing prices drop in big cities. Between the pandemic and the social unrest and property destruction, the suburbs are looking more and more appealing, especially if you have children.

Watch Swedish cops restrain a belligerent on the nyc subway. They take him down, then keep asking him if he's ok. Why can't American cops be like this? Why do they talk about "hitting them hard" rather than just "make sure they're ok"? Why is the default relationship adversarial?

There was a belligerent drunk being an asshole to the conductor on my train in Switzerland and these two guys sitting in the back suddenly pulled out their badges (which were on chains around their necks) and turned out to be plainclothes transport police.

It was an amusing interaction to watch because:

* The drunk fellow was much larger than the conductor but she didn't even seem fazed and was pretty much telling him that if he wasn't going to produce a ticket (I don't know if this was one of those buy-in-the-train trains) he was going to have to get off.

* He was being all up in her face but when the cops got up they just walked up to him and tapped him on the shoulder

* They did have to restrain him but it was all rather civilized

I can't help but think that considering everything he'd be tackled to the ground where I live now. It was sort of like a movie to watch these two guys dressed like you'd see street punks in a movie suddenly turn out to be transport police.

Naturally it's one incident and I don't know what use of force is like in Switzerland or Sweden in general.

The training regimen for police is broadly one based on acting before you even have to react. Remember the game "slaps"? The one where you have to move your hands before your opponent moves theirs from below to above your hands, and slaps them.

They train by playing this, but with guns.

For reference, here's the incident the parent comment is talking about: https://youtu.be/pBekdnGWAcs

I'm sure we'll get some answers faster by cutting the budget and knocking the Patrick Lynches of the world off their high horses.

I would assume that before you go make resources decisions you first reassess the goals that society have for said funding. Maybe rethink the role of police?

Less funding means less police, not better police. I don’t see how this resolves any issues. In Detroit, you can see what happens when you heavily defund police departments. Crime and police response time dramatically increase. Defunding is like taking the clothes away from a mis-behaving child. It doesn’t fix the child’s issue, the child is just naked now.

I’m all for experimentation in these days and ages. We’ll be able to document far-reaching changes (both good and bad). Sure, some communities and business sectors may dissolved due to such disruption but that’s the price of civilization and (d)evolving governance.

I think this is a bad idea. We really need drastically more police training on things like de-escalation. I think we actually also need more police. Part of our problem is that while putting police in cars and dispatching them centrally via radio let us cut down on the number of police we use it also had the effect of making police officer isolated from the community. The start of this in the US was during Prohibition and this was looked on as a plus at the time in terms of enforcing laws communities didn't agree with.

Making the police's only community contacts be with criminals means that they subconsciously absorb social norms from criminals and I think that's on display right now. We need to purse community policing even at the cost of decreased efficiency. We can't get rid of the police and the US's current system is obviously not working.

It's a tough pill to swallow, but people need to realize that police are not social workers and must not be treated as such. They are violence workers. Their purpose is to fulfill the objective of the state using force if necessary.

If the goal is a smaller amount of police related violence, something as vague as "de-escalation training" training is the wrong way to get there. If you want less police related violence, focus on minimizing public interaction with police.

Turning the other cheek and buying more training is not an effective strategy of reforming an institutional adversary.

I think it's very important in situations like this to have a goal in mind. I don't see abolishing the police as an option here, martial law and self-help justice are even more undesirable than our current situation. So changes have to be made with a view to creating a better world rather than just lashing out to make ourselves feel better. Countries like Britain show that good policing is a possibility so we should be working towards reforms that make that possible.

It's not lashing out, it's a calculated decision to reduce the power of the adversary.

> Countries like Britain show that good policing is a possibility so we should be working towards reforms that make that possible.

Just because we call our thing "police" and they call their thing "policy" doesn't mean there is a direct path of reform from one to the other.

The situation in the US is very different from other rich nations---former widespread slavery, more guns, fewer social services. All this in forms the culture of the institution in the US as much anything it has in common with other rich countries.

Defunding and simultaneously reinvesting in this areas addresses exactly these underlying conditions---the Police are forced to do less and other agencies are empowered to do more. Then, and only then, can the US police be expected to act like their Western European counterparts.

This smacks of utopianism - social policy won't do away with crime. And color me surprised if the woke crowd successfully run with an austerity agenda.

I disagree with defunding the police because at some point, we run the risk of losing the rank and file cop. What happens if 40% of LAPD calls out sick for a week, and those remaining abstain from crowd control or enforcement.

I guess I’m just saying maybe defunding the police will make them feel attacked unjustly which may spiral to worse depths.

You are making the false assumption that we currently have exactly as many cops as we need.

No, no assumptions here. If I had to make any assumptions it would be that we do not have enough police officers in total, but that is largely dependent upon geographical or local criteria, much it is with any public service entity such as teachers, firefighters, etc. A $150 million cut (7.2%) in the LAPD budget ($1.8 bn) might mean nothing in the overall functioning of the organization, but to a smaller police department, a 7% cut in funding could mean very bad consequences.

I wonder who the "activists" will blame when business investment moves to other cities, property values drop dramatically, and crime goes through the roof. I'm assuming whatever's in-vogue politically at the time.

That sounds like a truly horrible idea

The police do not need billions of dollars. Defunding the police is a great idea. There are many more effective ways to spend this money. Police are used as a (poor) bandage for issues that stem from lack of funding in other areas, like healthcare, social work and housing.

I think part of the confusion stems from the choice of word. This is the definition of defund from the Oxford English Dictionary: "prevent from continuing to receive funds"

It doesn't mean "Reduce funding down to a much smaller level in order to ensure the police fulfil only essential functions, while raising health, social and housing spending"

I'm not sure which word would be a better choice, maybe there is none. But the literal meaning of defund suggests the proposal is to eliminate the police.

Decrease funding. Reduce budget.

That may be what the campaigners mean, but that's not what the word "defund" means. So it makes the campaign sound like something it isn't.

This isn't some radical new definition. Beyond the dictionary, here's American political precedent. The Republicans attempted to eliminate funding for Obamacare by "defunding" it.


I know. You said you didn’t know an alternative phrasing. I gave you two.

Oh gotcha. Those are too long I think. “Decrease the funding of the police” isn’t nearly as catchy “defund the police”

I think you’d really need one word.

You say that, but could you provide citations. Like I can provide a narrative claiming the real problem is not enough funding.

Police need to be paid better so we can attract better police who will take their duties and responsibilities seriously.

Some small evidence is this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_and_dependen.... We seem to be in the middle of the pack of developed democracies

Certainly the extreme version of this can't be true. We need a police force of some kind.

Police are paid well, especially if you count benefits, OT pay and pensions. Their jobs and benefits are also protected by very strong unions. If you compare police pay with the typical pay for important public servants like firefighters or teachers, you'll find police are doing just fine.

See https://www.ziprecruiter.com/Salaries/What-Is-the-Average-Po... for some loose numbers, you can find similar numbers in many other places. "Several cities in California have average police officer salaries above $100,000, including the highest in the San Jose area"

It's possible paying "more" would improve the quality of police officers but how much more do we need to pay for them to stop shooting people in the eye with less-lethal rounds that aren't meant to be fired directly at people or from ranges less than 10m?

Police budgets keep going up and somehow the violence hasn't stopped. What's the price threshold that fixes it? LAPD was looking at another big boost to funding this year after multiple funding increases over the last decade.

I knew a cop work worked his whole life in my home town in Tennessee and his ending salary was $38k/year. My 2nd software job was $40k/yr when I was 23.

In Seattle, I was cycling to a friend's house. I didn't remember exactly where he lived, but I got half way there, pulled out my phone and ... the charging cable had not been in right. It died. I asked a guy at a 7/11 if I could borrow his charging cable for 2 min. He asked where my friends where, and then told me to put my bike in his truck and he'd give me a ride.

Dude was a Seattle Police Captain. Normal guy. Talked about how he shouldn't have bought a house; too much work and it was a money sink. He pointed it out to me on my way to my friend's. Just a little side unit.

My friend, who is a Defence Attorney, said, "You're not suppose to start off the weekend in a cop car." I didn't! It was his personal truck! .. also my friend was super surprised he lived in Seattle; probably cause he had lived there a long time. Most Seattle cops cannot afford to live anywhere near the city or the districts they patrol.

I am a minority, if that matters.

> Most Seattle cops cannot afford to live anywhere near the city or the districts they patrol.

I agree that this is a bad thing, but most people in general cannot afford to live near where they work in Seattle because Seattle has severe cost of living issues. This is not unique to police officers.

There are other big cities where most of the police officers live outside of town.

I'm okay with, in general, saying all public servants should be better compensated so they can live close to work. Suggesting that only cops deserve this for some reason (not firefighters? ambulance drivers?) is weird especially when it's proposed as a solution to police violence.

FWIW my first tech job was also in Seattle and I earned less than both you and that police officer for the 3 years I was there. Had to live an hour outside of the city to afford rent!

The streams of dollars are from different sources.

Defunding local police is easy, but there is no way to meaningfully take that money and meaningfully apply it to social purposes.

> Defunding the police is a great idea.

People saying this live in secure, peaceful suburbs( obviously).

Or have been systematically harassed in cities.

Or aren't white and thus are more likely to be shot than helped by the police no matter how crime ridden their neighborhood.

do you any stats for this by any chance?


how would slashing funding for police help. I don't follow this chain of logic at all. People here in south side chicago die of gun violence not of police harassment. General concensus here has been that city doesn't have enough budget to grapple with gun violence that kills thousands of people here. Now all of sudden its that they have too much budget. How can both be true.

We can't keep having this same conversation over and over again. History exists, and it's incumbent on you to take the time to seek it out instead of asking others to do the work for you. Re-litigating the premise makes you look uninformed.

heh..ok i will research this more.

And this past weekend led to over 80 shootings and 20 fatalities ... ZERO of which were from police.

And handouts. Basically bribe the troublemakers so the police is not necessary. Clever.

So what you're implying is that if everyone had everything they needed (perhaps prescribed by someone else), then we would need little or no policing? No cuts, no bandage! This reminds me of the movie "The Invention of Lying" where everyone was truly honest until someone decided they could get away with whatever they wanted.

Is there any evidence defunding the police will make the community safer? Is there a particular part of the police budget that should be cut?

It depends. My town is small. Do I think my local PD needs tank, humvee and a chopper? No. It may be a little different in Chicago and budget should reflect that.

But. There is a big but here. The very human tendency is to forever increase a budget. I am virtually certain there is a lot of fat to be cut.

My understanding is that there are federal grants that are responsible for the militarization of municipal police, largely put in place by corrupt politicians wanting to court the vote of military contractors and their employees in their district. Can't find a source for this ATM though.

edit: here's a pretty lengthy academic article on the matter, see page 1803. https://digitalcommons.law.seattleu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?...

> It depends. My town is small. Do I think my local PD needs tank, humvee and a chopper?

If common people couldn't buy assault firearms like ice cream, probably no. This widespread small penis complex is making NRA and their supporters rich at the expense of everyone else by pushing an escalation that turns into a wonderful excuse for police militarization.

I'm not from the US, but following closely both for interest and because there's a creeping desire to import this in some EU countries as well (guess from which political side...), and police over here is already violent enough even with no tanks and minimal racism involved.

You will find that a lot of suburbanites have a fair amount of guns and yet the suburbia does not seem to sugger from the same afflictions as inner cities. In short, I think you are wrong about the cause.

I agree that there is fat to be cut, as with a lot of the government. That said, hasn't it been pretty well documented that these areas that experience the riots have a drop in police presence after the fact and typically have worse conditions? I just think this will have insidious externalities that wouldn't help the way people intend it to.

I just picked out a few cities - Chicago [0], NYC [1], and Wichita [2] and it turns out that they all spend very similar amounts per FTE (105-120k). I tried to find the online budget for my hometown PD, but couldn't.

[0] https://www.chicago.gov/content/dam/city/depts/obm/supp_info...

[1] https://council.nyc.gov/budget/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2...

[2] https://www.wichita.gov/Finance/Operating%20Budget/Police%20...

Chicagoan here; we also don't need a tank or a humvee and probably don't need a chopper.

In a typical year, the police and fire helicopters spend more time doing search and rescue on the lake [0] and aerial coordination at actual fires than anything else. They're assets to the city.

[0] Chicago has just about the same amount of coastline as SF - from Mussel Rock Park all the way around to Brisbane is almost exactly the same distance as the Indiana state line to Evanston.

Buy a gun. 2A. Prepare for a world in which you have to defend yourself because help is not coming and the bad actors know it.

Average police response time is 10 minutes. Violent criminals don't wait that long.

Edit: To be clear, this isn't a good reason to go out and buy a gun. We already know that the help isn't coming, which is why the police should focus on real crimes.

All that will do is make the pile of bodies higher. The solutions are attainable and don’t involve violence.

Are the solutions attainable? AFAICT most of the violence is coming from the police, and they are emboldened by the complete lack of consequences for use of force.

I think you could argue that the cause of violence is the massive imbalance in power between the people involved. Ideally the risk of actual consequence might dissuade police from acting thoughtlessly.

Edit: specifically referring to the violence at protests, not broader violence issues. It’s worth remembering that Americans have a first amendment right to protest peacefully.

Civilian on civilian violence is many multiples higher than police on civilian violence.

Look at what happens anywhere there is a police vacuum. Be it Somalia, Mexico, Paris Suburbs, South African townships.

Are police really responsible for most violence (murders / robberies etc) in the US. If so it would seem better supervision would lead to a huge reduction in those crimes.

If you believe the news headlines without thinking about how they're feeding you a carefully-constructed narrative, then yes. The stat everyone likes to quote is that cops commit some ludicrously large proportion of all murders by strangers, but of course people don't generally go around killing people they don't know. Beating, mugging, burglarizing at gunpoint? Sure, there's plenty of that... but murders are generally someone known to the victim.

Feel free to expand on that

For you, perhaps.

Remember Twitch plays Pokemon? I'm interested in the new experiment, Twitch plays LA and then Twitch plays America. Worth the shot right?

Give the people what they want. Cut the budgets and reduce policing. If this is truly what the people want, then on their heads may it be.

I agree with you in a game setting where we play multiple roads but that's not possible and I think many people will be hurt by this.

It is hard to believe there are people who have such little understanding of reality.

We're in a period of mass hysteria, largely at the hands of social media networks. The only thing a sane person can do right now is sit back and let it play itself out before we're moved on to the next thing to be outraged and divided over.

Defunded police are a danger to the society they serve, it is a dangerous narrative as well.

This is a good example of an area where the far left and the far right are in total agreement. The far left is obvious, but the far right people also love the idea of defunding the police. It sets back the gun control agenda because without effective police the arguments for gun ownership become immeasurably stronger. It sets back the feminist agenda because it means women will have to depend on the men they know for protection, unless they are willing to carry and use a gun.

And that's barely scratching the surface. The number of higher order consequences of defunding the police are mind-boggling. Insurance costs will obviously skyrocket for one, if policies even continue to be offered at all. Seeing a market opportunity, organized criminals will certainly step up their classic protection rackets. The wealthy will have to spend slightly more on private security, but obviously that doesn't really bother them. And of course if all that money is instead sent to minority communities, well I guarantee there will be some kind of struggle over who gets control of it.

Well, the high-liberty right is anti-police because they are the arm of state violence so there's a more direct relationship.

The "People's Budget"? The folks calling for defunding are small in number and do not represent the views of all or even most of the "People". I don't want to see the police defunded, nor do most reasonable people around me. Here in Seattle, given the sharp increase in property crimes and blight over the last ten years, I would like to see the opposite - increased policing and increased prosecution. It's an especially big problem since most people are so jaded from the total lack of police response, that they simply no longer report property crimes.

We've already hamstrung our justice system due to calls from activists. For example, the city regularly releases criminals instead of sentencing them, which resulted in infuriating situations, like a man with 74 prior convictions including 15 assaults being released, only to then throw hot coffee at a toddler (https://komonews.com/news/project-seattle/no-felony-charges-...). Reducing policing simply further removes disincentives for crime, beyond what we've done already, and will remove all the good we get from policing as well.

The calls for "community programs" also seem incredibly vague and wasteful, and are unlikely to provide any substitute for the societal safety that comes from enforcing laws. Instead, I suggest we focus on more nuanced and precise actions - like banning or altering training around carotid artery holds, like banning no-knock raids, like having always-on body cams, like revisiting qualified immunity (https://fee.org/articles/to-curtail-police-impunity-rep-just...), etc.

Here's the prosecutor's office's response to the release of the man who threw coffee at a toddler (from the article you linked in fact).


In evaluating whether there is sufficient evidence to support a felony charge, we are ethically bound to apply the facts of a particular case to the law as established by the legislature. This is regardless of the history of a particular defendant or the outrageousness of the conduct.

In order to elevate an assault against a child from a gross misdemeanor to a felony, there must be some level of bodily harm to the victim. The details of this law are specified here: https://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=9A.36.140

Throwing coffee on a child is horrible and abusive behavior. Due to the Seattle Police Department (SPD) patrol’s response we were able to answer the questions we needed to determine the appropriate charges in this case. We learned from the police report that the child, thankfully, did not appear to have been injured in any way and we were told that the child received no medical treatment. In other words, the facts of this particular case didn’t support this being a felony. That said, we were able to refer the case to Seattle Municipal Court to ensure the offender was kept in custody.


According to the laws in place, no matter how many police there were or how well funded they were, the man, by law, should have been released in that particular circumstance. If that's unacceptable, then the laws should change, but as it stands this event was the justice system working as designed.

The prosecutor is wrong, and you can tell that they know they're wrong because they linked to the wrong statute.


You can upgrade to second degree for "or (ii) causing the child physical pain or agony that is equivalent to that produced by torture."

I think you can make the argument that pouring near boiling water on a toddler counts as that.

Playing devil's advocate:

You could also make the argument in the other direction, so this isn't as cut and dry a case of the prosecution being clearly at fault.

Additionally, this is a legal document, and there could be a strict definition of "torture" or for how one determines "pain or agony equivalent to" that doesn't make intuitive sense, but applies in the legal context (as I understand things as a non-lawyer, it's not that uncommon for words to mean surprising things in legal documents, which is a big part of why lawyers are valuable, they know how to currently interpret words that would mean something very different in conversational English)

Do you have more information on this that would eliminate that ambiguity?

I mean, he only cited the weakest part of the statute.

> and there could be a strict definition of "torture" or for how one determines "pain or agony equivalent to" that doesn't make intuitive sense, but applies in the legal context (as I understand things as a non-lawyer

Those are called "matters of fact" (in contrast to matters of law) which is what you need a jury for. The question of "did he cause pain or agony" would be the core question the jury would be answering.

The are good points. Thanks for taking the time to explain.

what evidence is there that more police reduces crime?

In fact I'll throw out there the time that the NYPD went on strike to prove to the people of New York how much they needed the force (which is pretty fucked up IMO, they were essentially sacrificing the security of civilians in their mind), but instead crime plummeted even accounting for reduced reports of crime.

Ie. the presence of police in fact seems to increase crime.


A counter example is Iraq, where disbanding existing police and trying to create a new unit from scratch caused Baghdad to turn into a violent warzone. (source: Iraq No End in Sight. documentary)

Baghdad was already a literal violent warzone. We had just invaded and they didn't want an occupying army there.

That is absolutely, 100%, not true. Barbra Bodine stated in "Iraq: No End in Sight," Baghdad had ~11 murders in their morgue each year. It was safe for foreigners to have coffee and walk out on the street. In the opening weeks of the invasion, there were over 30 murders per day.

It was under an autocratic fist. Speak against Saddam and go to jail .. but it was safe.

I'm saying that the US invading turned it into a warzone, not the removal of police.

They created a civil war where the only thing that nearly everyone agreed with was that the Americans should leave.

True. But I do think better planning and reconstruction efforts would have prevented the war zone. General Shinseki requested three times the number of troops that were deployed. They simply did not have enough to take an old Baghdad or much of Iraq.

That combined with turning away the local current military leadership that was volunteering to help, made it spiral way worse that it needed to.

Well that’s because the police became terrorists. And it was already literally a warzone.

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