Focus Law Enforcement on Violent Crime, not Social Work
Article from For Liberty by Norm Leahy.
“Defund the police” may have gotten traction in some quarters, but the thinking behind it – to completely do away with cops — is not serious policy.
What is worth serious discussion is whether state and local governments have put too many responsibilities on law enforcement’s plate, effectively making police into armed social workers rather than law enforcement.
Could some responsibilities currently assigned to police be more effective, and safely, handled elsewhere?
The Cato Institute’s Michael Tanner thinks so. In a piece on the demands California places on its officers, Tanner wrote:
…dispatching records show police being assigned tasks they are not equipped for – wellness checks, mental illness, drug overdoses, dealing with the homeless – on top of traffic accidents and citations. The Los Angeles Police Department’s dispatches throughout 2018 show that only 12% of dispatches were for violent crimes, compared to almost 40% for nonviolent complaints and 38% for property crimes.
Tanner says many of these issues should be handled in different ways – through “[m]ental health professionals and social service personnel.”
Law enforcement could then employ its personnel toward the more serious crimes for which they are both trained and equipped.
Such a move may also maintain progress on what “remains..a decades-long downward trend” in violent crime.
Image Credit: By Jamelle Bouie [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons