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As protests continue across the country, some are calling to 'defund the police'

Posted at 5:11 PM, Jun 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-09 01:23:40-04

As protests continue across the country, some are calling to "defund the police." In Arizona, there are calls to reduce police budgets and reinvest that money in other community programs.

"To move resources just from punishment, which is policing, and move that money into resources and communities and people," said Viri Hernandez with Poder in Action. "To move that to housing, to move that to food, to move that to education, to move that to mental health."

When the Phoenix City Council approved a $1.4 billion operating budget Monday, it did not include cuts to the Phoenix Police Department but did fully fund a civilian oversight board that will investigate allegations of police brutality and officer involved shootings.

Still, some are hoping to see budgets reduced.

"The idea of defunding the police, it looks like investing in community," said Parris Wallace with Black Phoenix Organizing Collective. "We're not talking about shutting down policing tomorrow...what we're talking about is taking from the bloated budget. For example, Phoenix Police Department, their budget is wild. What we're talking about is taking that and investing it in community-based programs."

The Phoenix Police Department annual budget exceeds $700 million.

Former Phoenix Police Assistant Chief Kevin Robinson, who is now a lecturer at ASU, says it is possible to reduce a department's budget, but it comes with a tradeoff.

"There are things that police departments can do to reduce their budget and those monies can be allocated elsewhere," Robinson said. "But what we have to understand is when you reallocate those monies, we're going to go without something. Does that mean the helicopter that's up in the air, you're going to reduce the number of hours that it's flying around? Are you going to reduce the number of police cars, or how often you replace your older police cars for your newer police cars?"

Communities across the country are now grappling with how best to proceed.

On Monday, the Glendale City Council issued the following statement, indicating they do not support defunding their police department.

Glendale’s City Council has dedicated the last eight years to working with our Police Department to ensure the safety of our citizens. While videos like those of George Floyd are shocking to see and cases like his have appropriately led to murder charges, the public needs to remember that NO ONE hates a bad cop more than a good cop.

We are blessed with an outstanding police force in Glendale, Arizona and we are unalterably opposed to any effort to defund our Police Department. Think back to just a few weeks ago with the shooting at Westgate and the speed and efficiency Glendale Police used to stop the gunman. Now imagine how long it would take for help to arrive in their absence.

Keeping our city safe is job #1 and that is why our police and fire enjoy some of the best compensation packages in the state. They also receive quality training and every officer, from the chief to the newest recruit, understands we are all partners in keeping Glendale as safe as possible from those who would do us harm.

Much as there is a world of difference between peaceful protesters and those intent on burning down buildings and looting local businesses, there is a world of difference between that rare bad cop and a department full of good cops.

We the undersigned continue to support a FULLY FUNDED Police department for as long as we are your community leaders.