The many killings of unarmed African American residents by police officers during 2020 have increased national awareness of the consequences of forceful over-policing tactics in predominantly Black communities. These senseless deaths have prompted a burgeoning call to “Defund the Police” –of which, chanting echoes can be heard across the nation. Although the differentiated interpretation of its meaning and purpose – reallocation vs.dismantle – has persisted, the defund the police messaging has led to honest national conversations and debates on federal, state, and local funding for police departments. According to a Popular Democracy report, between 20% and 45% percent of local municipality discretionary funding is allocated toward law enforcement departments. A Bloomberg report found that since 1977, the United States’ policing budget has nearly tripled to $115 billion, despite the decrease in crime.2 In another report examining state and local budgets spanning 60 years, Bloomberg found no significant relationship between increased police budgets and a crime reduction. This is the fifth in a series of action briefs on police reform.
The CJR Solution: As state, local, and federal lawmakers, mayors, law enforcement, and other important stakeholders consider advancing police reform in their jurisdictions, CJR recommends the following: