ACTION BRIEF

Reallocation of Police Funds

Issue

The killings of unarmed African American residents by police officers during 2020 have increased national awareness of the consequences of forceful over-policing tactics in predominantly Black communities. These deaths have prompted calls to “Defund the Police,” which focuses on reallocating funds to services that the government has neglected. The guided philosophy supporting increased agency budgets and expanded police presence in minority communities has not yielded the desired outcomes of reduced crime but has dramatically increased Black citizens’ contact with police, ultimately leading to the currently observed rates of police shootings of Black citizens.Key Statistics and Facts:

  • Between 20% and 45% of local municipality discretionary funding is allocated toward law enforcement departments.

  • Since 1977, the United States’ policing budget has nearly tripled to $115 billion, despite the decrease in crime.

  • Studies show that investment in non-carceral systems, such as health care and high-quality education, decreases crime.

  • In response to police shootings and community outcry, some cities, like New York City and Los Angeles, have started to reallocate a portion of their police funding to social services and programs.

  • The “broken windows” policing strategy, implemented in cities like New York and Camden, NJ, led to increased hiring of more police, a whiter police force, and disproportionate arrests of Blacks and Latinos without reducing crime.Recommendations:

As state, local, and federal lawmakers, mayors, law enforcement, and other key stakeholders consider advancing police reform in their respective jurisdiction, CJR recommends the following:1. Audit fiscal budgets to identify needed reductions in police budgets and reinvestment opportunities for improved community services.

  1. Develop partnering relations in municipalities with community mental health and social service agencies to tailor intervention services.

  2. Establish partnerships with local colleges or research experts to measure the quality and quantity of police-citizen contact requiring specialized social and mental health services.

  3. Fund programs and initiatives at the local, state, and federal levels that provide employment and training opportunities, after-school youth programs, and educational opportunities for people in disenfranchised communities.