We have all seen and heard the slogan “defund the police” flash across our social media and news platforms since the tragic death of George Floyd on 25 May 2020.
But what would defunding the police look like?
The first image that pops to mind is complete chaos. Pitchforks, civil unrest and anarchy.
The idea of cutting back police budgets has long been dismissed as a fantasy of the far-left. We have been conditioned to believe that police presence in our communities is essential for order and justice.
Yet, our prisons are overcrowded, our courts are saturated and crime rates are through the roof.
Does our police force actually serve the community in the way we are conditioned to believe it does? Or is it a case of Albert Einstein’s “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result”.
In Minneapolis, nine members of the City Council have voted, creating a veto-proof supermajority, vowing to dismantle policing as the city knows it, and rebuilding a new community model of public safety that actually keeps the community safe.
Defunding the police is the idea that crime prevention is more effective than crime-fighting. Rather than funding the police, should our taxpayer dollars be directed elsewhere?
The funding that is currently directed to our police force, could go towards creating spaces for mental health service providers, social workers, victim and survivor advocates, religious leaders, neighbours, healers, and friends.
What might come surprisingly to some, is there are already community-based justice reinvestment projects in New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory.
For example, in Bourke, a small community in rural New South Wales, the Maranguka Justice Reinvestment Project is already implemented. The initiative at its simplest, focuses on family strength, youth development and adult empowerment. It limits the amount of contact members of the community have with police.
The result? The local incarceration rate has plummeted.
This is only one of many initiatives already having success at preventing crime around our country.
However, these programs lack funding. The justice reinvestment programs in Australia rely on philanthropic donations for their survival.
This returns to us to our initial question. But what would and more importantly COULD defunding the police look like?