Giving Compass' Take:

• Simone Weichselbaum and Nicole Lewis call for a concrete redistribution plan for defunding the police, citing its previous failures to end racist violence.

• What can you do to educate yourself and others about what it means to relocate police funds towards other means for responding to problems?

• Learn about one detailed effort to relocate police funds in Los Angeles.

Once a radical notion, the push to defund the police is gaining ground. Across the country, organizers, celebrities,and former city officials are calling on lawmakers to reimagine the role of police in public safety.

Proponents of taking money away from cops say cities cannot simply reform their way out of the current policing crisis. And in the wake of the pandemic, some have highlighted a deadly disparity: many cities spend millions more on law enforcement than they do on most other services, including public health.

Opponents say it is too soon to abandon the progress police departments have made to curb officer violence and improve their relationships in communities of color. Some point to the effects of the 2008 recession, where cities cut police funding with no real plan, with unintended consequences, including increasing complaints over use of force.

But what do people mean by defunding the police? One of the main ideas is that police departments are often the only agency to respond to problems — even if the problems are not criminal in nature. Police handle mental health crises. They enforce traffic laws. They patrol public school hallways and contract with colleges and universities. In many small towns, police answer 911 calls about barking dogs and loud parties. Advocates of defunding the police argue that many of these functions would be better left to other professionals, such as social workers.

Decades of over-policing in black and brown neighborhoods has led to black and brown people being disproportionately victims of police violence and overrepresented in prisons. A better approach, proponents of defunding the police argue, redirects law-enforcement funding to social services programs such as public housing, early childhood education and healthcare. By equitably distributing resources, they say, the need for police could be dramatically reduced.

Read the full article about defunding the police by Simone Weichselbaum and Nicole Lewis at The Marshall Project.