Police defunding: Prevention and survival tips

The numbers out of Minneapolis prove the damage that can be expected when a city allows itself to be led down this destructive path


Of late a number of agencies have become targeted by those who would like to “defund, dismantle, and or re-imagine policing.” One city that has been victimized by this dangerous policy is Minneapolis.

The numbers out of Minneapolis prove the damage that can be expected when a city allows itself to be led down this destructive path. Comparing criminal victimization rates from 2020 YTD to 2019 YTD shows:

  • Arsons increased by 76%, from 72 to 127;
  • Assaults increased by 24% from 2,114 to 2,616;
  • Robberies increased by 37%, from 1,161 to 1,593;
  • Homicides increased by 87% from 39 to 73.  
It is not being overly dramatic to say many people will die due to dangerous defunding of the police.
It is not being overly dramatic to say many people will die due to dangerous defunding of the police. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo, File)

Besides losing officers to defunding, police officers are leaving the department in numbers never seen before. The Minneapolis Police Chief has asked for and received authorized funding to bring in officers from outside agencies to assist this once self-sufficient agency.

Here are some recommendations on how to first prevent, or, if necessary, survive defunding.

How to prevent police defunding

Follow these five steps to ensure your law enforcement agency maintains essential funding:

1. Proactively prepare to argue against defunding.

Every department has someone in the administration who prepares and defends the budget. This person has a union counterpart who argues on behalf of the officers for pay and benefits.

Each must proactively prepare to effectively convince council or board members that funding of police is in the best interest of public safety, while defunding is just plain dangerous. To accomplish this, accumulate statistics from cities that have been dangerously defunded. The numbers are not only demonstrative but also shocking to anyone truly concerned about public safety.

2. Do not use the word “crime” as a standalone term.

“Crime” has become a sterile word. Police agencies should use the term “criminal victimization” in reporting and budget presentations in order to highlight the many victims of criminal activity. Also, whenever possible put actual faces to the victimizations.

3. Counter every misrepresentation with the truth.

Departments should release body-worn camera footage as soon as possible to ensure the correct narrative makes the evening news. Ferguson demonstrated that lies must be immediately debunked, or the lie will be perceived forever as the truth.

4. Train for a professional performance

Too often on-going training in everything from professional communication skills to hands-on control, as well as the use of deadly force, is woefully inadequate in many agencies. Many police administrators will tell you they can’t afford more time in the mat room and on the range, but now more than ever, they can’t afford not to train officers.

To consistently see a professional performance under stress you need only train officers in advance for a professional performance under stress.

5. Maintain a sincere relationship with the heart of the community.

Community policing programs have been implemented over the years and have created temporary connections within the community. However, when the passion and funding for the program run out, those connections dissipate.

No community policing program is needed when officers working their beats genuinely care about their beats and connect with the people on them who are the heart of the community.

One beat cop, who cares enough to connect with the people on his or her beat, can positively impact the agency’s relationship with the community. If you multiply that by 100 or even 1,000 officers in the community they protect and serve, eventually the community will care back, making dangerous defunding improbable.

how to survive police defunding

Consider the following if your law enforcement agency faces defunding:

1. Decide whether you will quit, laterally transfer to another agency, or stay.

If you stay find solace in this fact: The pendulum will swing back.

If you quit your decision has a finality to it. Before you do, make sure that is what you really want, or you will regret it.

If you go to another agency, investigate your choices before you apply. Know what is pending at any agency you consider transferring to as far as local defunding, or any movement toward ending “qualified immunity” at the state level.

2. If you stay, be a worker.

Be a worker for two important reasons.

First and foremost, your community and fellow officers need you.

Second, officers who “retire on duty” fail to observe things that they should. They become dangerous to themselves and others.

Therefore, while you are on the job, do your job, for safety’s sake!

3. Excel on one call at a time.

No matter how busy you are, or how understaffed you are, you can only answer one call at a time. Being slip-shod on any call can get you killed. Do the best you can and be the best you can during every contact, one call at a time.

4. Administratively identify every response that was damaged due to defunding.

It is not being overly dramatic to say many people will die due to dangerous defunding. The administration of a dangerously defunded agency must meticulously indicate the crimes against victims that were facilitated by defunding and keep a running count of incidents and casualties.

To do this, maintain the record of your old average response time and, when a felon escapes, or a victim is injured or killed before an officer’s arrival after that old average response time, document it as an escape/injury/death due to defunding.

5. It’s all about the beat: Concentrate your limited personnel on patrol.

Any agency stripped of personnel by defunding must re-assign as many supervisors, specialized and support personnel as necessary back to uniform patrol to maintain a viable patrol presence.

Conclusion

Whether you are in a defunded agency or not, now more than ever it is imperative that you consciously enrich your life beyond law enforcement. Construct a life outside the job that you dwell in that allows you to not dwell on the challenges of the profession. Make every effort to enrich your life with quality time spent enhancing your family, fitness and fun.

Now is the time to remember the words a World War II combat vet told a young police officer who was struggling through emotionally hard times on the job. He patted the officer on the shoulder and said truthfully, “It gets better.”

It will you know.

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