Page 2 - What does 'defund the police' mean and why some say reform is not enough

In an Op-Ed in the Washington Post, Christy E. Lopez, a Georgetown Law professor  and co-director of the school’s Innovative Policing Program, writes that defunding the police is not necessarily something that comes overnight or by just zeroing out a police department's budget.

"Defunding the police means shrinking the scope of police responsibilities and shifting most of what government does to keep us safe to entities that are better equipped to meet that need," Lopez writes.

MPD150, a Minneapolis-based initiative by local organizers aiming to bring "meaningful structural change" to police in the city, similarly writes that shifting police's responsibilities is central to the defund the police movement.

From law enforcement tracking down enslaved people who escaped in the south to enforcement of Jim Crow laws, "that history is engrained in our law enforcement," Isaac Bryan, the director of UCLA's Black Policy Center, told CNN.

Alex S. Vitale, a professor of sociology at Brooklyn College who wrote the book "The End of Policing," explained to NPR that there is a "myth" that police are politically neutral and enforce laws to benefit everyone equally.


"The reality is that America's social order has never been entirely equitable," Vitale told NPR. "While we're not using police to manage slavery or colonialism today, we are using police to manage the problems that our very unequal system has produced."

Today, the history of law enforcement results in black people being killed by police at a disproportionate rate, advocates say. For example, a 2016 paper in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine analyzed data from the National Violent Death Reporting System, a federally maintained database. It found that while the majority of victims of lethal force by police were white, the fatality rate among black people was 2.8 times higher than among white people.

Furthermore, in cases where police used lethal force, black victims were more likely to be unarmed than white or Hispanic victims, the paper found.

"It’s not possible for the entity of law enforcement to be a compassionate, caring governmental agency in black communities. That’s not the training, that’s not the institution," Cullors told WBUR.