Progress and change cannot come with comfort
Written by: Ariana Tsegai 🇪🇷
Daunte Wright, Andre Hill, George Floyd, Sandra Bland, Breonna Taylor, Atatiana Jefferson, and countless others. These are some of the many victims that lost their lives due to governmental neglect, and an oppressive justice system that targets people inhumanely because of their race.
Police officers in the United States have continuously killed civilians at an alarming rate, as data from Mapping Police Violence reported 158 civilian deaths from police neglect in 2023, with only two days this year when police did not kill anyone.
What can we make out of this information? Clearly, the lack of regulation and funding of police departments which continues the oppression of black and other minority groups has not been sustainable.
There’s been a push for government officials to keep their promises of change from several civil rights organizations such as the NAACP, the National Urban League, and the ACLU have stated that one significant promise that needs to be kept in the Biden Administration is the statement of police reform, as only so much has been done.
Recently this month, The White House introduced the agenda for the “Safer America Plan” that holds up to the administration's promise of effectively working to make communities safer through investing in crime prevention, expanding mobile crisis response, and taking additional commonsense steps on guns to keep dangerous firearms out of dangerous hands.
The only problem with this agenda is that Biden’s plan for increasing police funding will not make America safer.
The Safer America Plan will call for the hiring of 100,000 police officers and will allocate an additional $10.7 million dollars to America’s police budget – already the world’s largest. Though the White House’s agenda proposes support for non-police community programs, these funds will be negotiated and sacrificed in legislative negotiations or will face possible rerouting through law enforcement agencies across the country.
It seems that many U.S. politicians remain fearful of their stances on who is the “toughest” on crime. But Americans have seen time and time again that increasing police budgets do not solve the real problems within various communities such as poverty, food insecurity, and more.
Politicians on the local and federal levels should be willing to disrupt the status quo to address the burden of systemic racism, poverty, and inequality within public safety. It is essential that we seek alternatives such as community policing, investing in the well-being of people, and more. Rather than policing to address these concerns – considering the world we live in now.
Officials across the country have claimed the increase in police funding is a direct response to the rise in crime, but what we’ve seen during nationwide protests in 2020 is that change will only come with disruption.
We have the ability to view police budgets through the lens of solving issues of healthcare, housing, universal basic income, childcare, and other public safety programs outside of the criminal legal system to create real change in people’s lives, rather than incriminating them.
Nearly one in five children live below the federal poverty line. Census data displayed that as of 2021, 27 million Americans do not have health insurance, and the state of homelessness is continuing to increase due to rising housing costs.
There is a future beyond the policing we have today, and some cities in the U.S. have already begun to see progress in reallocating police funding to workforce development in high-crime neighborhoods. Philadelphia, for instance, has expanded its violence prevention efforts in order to fund employment and career support for its residents which is a program other states can implement to commit to reform.
Rather than investing time and money in policing strategies that have failed to ensure community safety and effectiveness, it is time for the U.S. to invest in the social safety net and invest in community-based, non-carceral approaches to violence.