Where the US protesters and police chiefs agree

June 9, 2020

Chants of "defund the police" have taken over social media and Minneapolis City Hall. It is reported that the city council has a veto-proof majority that will soon vote to disband the police department. What this means is not entirely clear to many. Does "defunding police" mean literally no police? Whom should we call if our home is invaded or our body violated? To some, the lack of easy answers makes talk of defunding sound like lunacy. 

And yet, with American streets flooded with protesters for two weeks, maybe history demands unprecedented action to avoid the cycles of violence, study, and reforms that seem to repeat nearly every 30 years in America. How can we look at this unrest and conclude that small solutions are what is needed? And how can America resolve the seeming conflict between the need to match the moment and maintain public order? 

A first step may be knowing that, for decades, police chiefs have agreed with some of the protesters' demands. For instance, they support removing police from contexts that can be managed without them. There is no police chief I know who does not share this conviction. Today, officers are often trained in conflict resolution with families, and critical substance abuse interventions -- but these are all services we should hope public health professionals could administer. 

Read the full article by CPE's Phillip Atiba Goff at Financial Times