Monday, July 13, 2020

Defund the Police?

Joe Gamaldi, Houston Police Officers Union President and National FOP VP, posted on Facebook some data from a Pew Research Center survey. Gamaldi's post was shared by the Richardson Police Officers' Association FOP Lodge 105. That's where I saw it.

First, a summary of the Pew data. 42% of Americans favor keeping spending on policing about the same. 31% favor increasing spending by a little or a lot. 25% favor decreasing spending by a little or a lot.

The data shows that a plurality of Americans are satisfied with current spending, and about equal numbers of Americans wanting to either increase or decrease spending.

When you dig a little deeper, you find that the public's attitude is more nuanced. According to FiveThirtyEight, "when Reuters/Ipsos queried people about 'proposals to move some money currently going to police budgets into better officer training, local programs for homelessness, mental health assistance, and domestic violence,' a whopping 76 percent of people who were familiar with those proposals supported them, with only 22 percent opposed." FiveThirtyEight concludes:
The idea of redirecting funding from police departments is a new one to most Americans, so the contours of the debate are still being defined — and so is public opinion. While the 'defund the police' slogan itself is quite unpopular, there does appear to be some support for rethinking police departments’ role in local budgets and the community, so public opinion on this issue could very well lead to policy change.
In my opinion, it's worth discussing this in more depth. That's not how Joe Gamaldi sees it, and possibly how the Richardson Police Officers' Association FOP Lodge 105 sees it, as they shared Gamaldi's Facebook opinion without comment. Gamaldi says, "73% of Americans believe police department budgets should stay the same or be increased. Time for politicians to get out of their echo chamber, stop pandering to the mob, and listen to the law abiding, tax paying members of our communities who want their neighborhoods to be safe. Kinda crushes the whole Defund/Dismantle nonsense."

That's not constructive. That's not helpful. I too am a law abiding, tax paying member of the community who wants my neighborhood to be safe. I "back the blue" as they say. I don't think some of the ideas of how to reform policing are "nonsense" at all. I hope Richardson police officers at least can offer more constructive ideas than Gamaldi himself offers in his Facebook comment.

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