Thoughts on the police

This post does not claim to have all the answers, or any answers, nor to be a comprehensive, or any kind of analysis, but is simply some thoughts on a subject that our society has finally been forced to deal with.

One's attitude to the police is clearly shaped by the reality one lives in. Unfortunately for too many people that reality is that the police are people who at worst kill them or their family members and at best treat them unfairly and discriminate against them. To others the police are people they depend on to protect them and in some cases to protect their privileged status in society.

Some will say this is an issue that we have imported from a racist United States. We know that to be untrue. Even those that say that know it to be untrue and the best they can argue is that it is relatively worse in the United States. Not being as bad as America is hardly a standard we should want to be judged by in Canada, particularly when strong arguments can be made that this is not true anyway, we just all wish it was.

Many will argue that abolishing or defunding the police are simply ideas that are too radical.

Indeed for untold decades suggestions for community building and crime prevention as an alternative to policing and incarceration have been met with support in principle without funding being provided, while police budgets have increased exponentially with little restraint. Indeed there seemed to have be an unspoken argument that we will find money for crime prevention when we no longer need it for the police because crime has disappeared.

We could of course reduce the need for the police by orders of magnitude if we stopped criminalizing what is a public health issue – drug use and abuse. We have done that for years with alcohol and tobacco use and cannabis just recently. There is no rational reason why all non-medical use of drugs should not been treated in the same way as a public health issue.

The funds are available to provide proper drug rehabilitation programs, sitting there in police budgets being wasted on treating a health matter as a criminal one. We could also use that money to provide mental health workers to deal with mental health crisis so the individuals receive treatment rather than being killed by police.

I dare say we have a huge amount of room to defund the police and put that money to better use.

We could put traffic enforcement in a separate organization with a greater emphasis on road safety rather than collecting fines,

What we have left within the police for traditional policing, crime investigation and law enforcement would still require major reforms. Reforms of the extent that could justifiably be argued would be best done by abolishing the police as they now exist and starting all over.

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