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‘Defund the police’ goes from slogan to reality: Here’s a roundup of major city PDs facing changes

The concept of defunding the police is quickly gaining traction, and some cities are moving to make it a reality.

‘Defund the police’ goes from slogan to reality: Here’s a roundup of major city PDs facing changes
[Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images]

A few weeks ago, the idea of defunding police departments might have seemed radical to most Americans, but the concept is quickly gaining traction. This weekend, as the slogan “Defund the Police” was painted in giant yellow letters on a street in the nation’s capital, a number of city officials made pledges to divert funds away from their local police departments and into other community-building endeavors.

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For the most part, the announcements were vague—that is, they didn’t lay out specific timelines or action plans—but they show how quickly the tide has turned on the issue of over-policing since the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police two weeks ago. Here’s a roundup of some recent announcements.

  • Minneapolis: Nine members of the City Council—reportedly a veto-proof majority—pledged to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department and replace it with a community-oriented model based on public safety.
  • New York City: Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed to shift some funds away from the bloated NYPD and into things such as youth services and social services. Although de Blasio’s statements lacked specifics, they marked the first time he said he would cut funding to America’s largest police department, which has a budget of $6 billion. According to The New York Times, the mayor said the details would be hashed out before the city’s budget deadline of July 1, which is fast approaching.
  • Los Angeles: Mayor Eric Garcetti announced he would divert $150 million from the Los Angeles Police Department toward services such as youth employment and health. While it’s a small sliver of the LAPD’s overall budget, it’s a significant gesture in a city that, as the Los Angeles Times reports, saw expanding its police force as “gospel” up until recently.

On the flip side, some high-level local officials—including Mayor Sam Liccardo of San Jose, California—are actively coming out against the idea, saying reforms to combat police brutality are justified but that defunding departments will disproportionally hurt disadvantaged communities. In Chicago, Rossana Rodríguez Sanchez, an alderman for the 33rd ward, has expressed support for defunding the police, calling it a “great tool to rethink our ideas of what public safety should look like.” But Chicago’s mayor, Lori Lightfoot, has indicated that she doesn’t support the idea.

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About the author

Christopher Zara is a senior staff news editor for Fast Company and obsessed with media, technology, business, culture, and theater. Before coming to FastCo News, he was a deputy editor at International Business Times, a theater critic for Newsweek, and managing editor of Show Business magazine

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