The current US police system is not working; here’s how we can fix it

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Graphic by Maisie Derlega

Nacala Williams

The recent turmoil in our country has opened the conversation about defunding, reforming, or abolishing the police. The countless killings of black people by police are getting more attention than ever before, and people are wondering how we can solve this problem. I believe that by defunding and redirecting money towards reforming police departments, we could help eliminate the number of unarmed black people that are killed and beaten by police, build a trusting relationship between police and people, and create a better society.

Police should be required to have at least an associate’s degree in order to apply for the job, longer and better training, physiological tests, and to get people from their communities to become police in their community. Formal education makes an individual a well-rounded critical thinker and an open-minded problem solver. A college education gives police the ability to take into account more information when making decisions, and these skills are important, especially in high-pressure situations. 

Longer and better training will not only decrease the number of unarmed black people killed, but it will also decrease the number of people killed in the hands of police. In other countries such as Norway, police have a three-year training and only kill about 2 out of 10 million people per year. However, in the U.S, police only go through about four to six months of training and kill about 35 out of 10 million people per year. Improving training should teach police officers to use other tools, besides a gun, to de-escalate situations and solve conflicts. 

Physiological tests and recruitment of people in their own communities will also help stop police brutality. Physiological tests will stop psychopaths, sociopaths, and others who are not mentally prepared from becoming police officers. People who can not pass these physiological and cognitive tests should not be given weapons to police citizens. Police should also serve people in their own neighborhoods. While in reality, it would be challenging to ensure that every officer is from the community that they work in, a solid majority of them should be. While biased treatment is unjust, it’s undeniable that people are more likely to help and care about others that look like them and have similar backgrounds as them. This helps to build trust between police and the community so that people are not scared of the police and know that they can help.

Defunding the police will give money to community outreach programs, education, youth services, social services, and programs that help build communities to make them better. Of all the calls police respond to, only four percent are for violent crimes. The police instead take part in proactive policing, medical and mental illness calls, non-criminal calls, traffic, and property crimes. This shows that the police are not chasing down criminals as much as people think they are. All the money that police are getting is not used for stopping violent crimes. The money they have should be put toward getting more qualified people to respond to medical and mental illness calls.

Solely defunding the police will not work because it won’t change police policy or how they handle situations. Abolishing the police is pushing it to the extreme and could make matters worse. Without the police, violent crimes will go unsolved and a privatized police department could form. The police are meant to protect the community they serve and catch criminals. When the police do those things, they are effective. The problem with police departments is that there is a lack of training, and officers carry a heavy workload. Reform will solve the lack of training deficiencies, and defunding the police will give money to other departments and organizations that can help take some of the load off of police. 

Large police budgets come with more policing, and more policing does not lower crime rates. Education has been proven to lower crime rates, cities with a higher quality of education have less crime, and cities with a lower quality of education have more crime. Recreation centers do community outreach and provide youth services such as sports and extracurricular activities. Youth services such as sports and extracurricular activities lower the rates of serious crimes. Social services help vulnerable youth and adults, aids in physical wellness, emotional wellness, and mental wellness. If money is put toward social services, education, youth services, and community outreach, communities would clearly benefit. People often commit crimes out of need. These programs help people with their needs, effectively lowering crime and taking some of the workloads off of police.

Defunding and reforming the police will put money where it can better serve people, their communities, and in programs that have been proven to lower crime rates. It will also help solve the internal issues in police departments nationwide.