Updated: Feb 26
Although I agree with what the "defund the police" movement is trying to achieve in principle, I don't believe that taking away funds from Cincinnati's police will address or solve most of the problems we are facing today. While I fully support the BLM movement, I suggest that we actually need to provide police with more resources.
Here’s why and what I propose:
Roles and responsibilities of police need to be redefined and some of those responsibilities need to be reallocated to other types of responders, specifically for issues or calls related to homelessness, mental illness, wellness checks, domestic dispute mediation (if non-life threatening), and nonviolent disturbances/crowd control. Police should handle theft, active shooters, murders, and crimes where a lethal weapon is needed or where other responders have exhausted their options. We’re asking them to do too much today and they don’t have the appropriate training to do it all.
We need to invest in better and longer training for police. Cincinnati police run a 28 week training program and I think that’s not nearly long enough to ensure people are ready for a position this important. Ohio law currently requires fewer hours of training to become a police officer than the person who cuts your hair: a minimum of 737 hours for officers compared to 1,500 for licensed cosmetologists and 1,800 for barbers. For a job as crucial and dangerous as police have, they deserve more training and preparedness.
We should increase funding for bodycams and technologies that protect not only the public, but also the officers. Eliminate qualified immunity and internal investigations, to be replaced with real independent oversight of wrongdoings and misconduct that go hand in hand with the bodycams as evidence (so that we can ensure true events are told from both sides). We need to establish a state (or even better - federal) registry of repeat offenders (post-independent reviews) so that they cannot move from department to department after they have been found guilty of multiple high offenses, similarly to any other licensed profession. This will slowly help restore trust from the public in our police and reward good police for doing their job honestly and effectively.
How to pay for these additional resources? Legalize marijuana federally (giving dispensaries the power to use banks and create larger economies of scale) and allow states to tax the hell out of it. I also support raising taxes on those making over $400k, incrementally increasing as you approach the 1%. Reallocate these funds to the areas I callout above to allow police do their jobs more effectively and to make communities feel safer when they need to call 911, for whatever reason.