Without other changes, it might even set back the effort to reform how police deal with black citizens
ONE AFTER another, almost 90 residents and activists testified at a virtual session of the Washington, DC, city council’s judiciary committee on June 15th to oppose a 3.3% increase in the capital’s police budget. Many called for the money to be redirected elsewhere. Some called for the police department’s abolition. On July 7th the council met to discuss next year’s budget, beginning a negotiation process that is likely to be rancorous. Washington is one of several cities grappling with demands to “defund the police”—among them Minneapolis, where the killing of George Floyd by an officer in May has led the city council’s president to vow to “dismantle” the local force.
“Defund” means different things in different circles. But at its core is a demand that police budgets be cut and that money be diverted to other services to support public safety, such as mental-health counsellors and social workers. But these efforts are complicated by the intricacies of current funding arrangements and the presence of several forces in the same area.