A New York Times opinion piece two weeks ago blared, “Yes, we literally mean abolish the police.”
In the wake of the televised death of George Floyd at the hands of a former police officer, I understand why we need to look at policing reform. I've talked with several officers recently and they agree the death was unacceptable and improvements can – and should – be made.
But abolish or defund the police?
What a recipe for anarchy.
There are more than 800,000 sworn law enforcement officers in the United States, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. Let's say 1% — 8,000 — should not be on the job because they are rule breakers, have turned cynical or are violent or racist. Weed them out. Prosecute them when they break the laws we are expected to obey.
Punishing 99% for the 1% of bad apples makes no sense.
The vast majority of people who responded to that op ed support law enforcement and understand justice is not equal for all. The changes we need to make should fix those injustices, not abolish police.
The men and women who wear a badge do so because they care about their communities and see their jobs as public service.
They're regularly asked to resolve in 20 minutes a domestic dispute that took years to develop. They respond to overdoses, suicides and violent crime scenes. Try shaking those images from your head.
Cops get cussed out and spit at by speeders. They hear us out when a neighbor has offended us or someone pulls a scam. They show up when a wellness check for an elderly person is requested. They never want to knock on a door to tell a family member a loved one has died in an accident, or homicide, but they do.
Others say police funding should be redistributed to social service programs, education, job training, and youth services. I'm in favor of more funding for these efforts, but not by taking it from police.
In recent weeks, tens of millions of Americans have added their voices to those of African Americans who have pleaded and demanded a stop to excessive and deadly force by a tiny group of police on unarmed African Americans.
The group advocating for defunding or abolishing police is small but vocal. I fear it could drive a wedge between many white supporters who, like me, believe in policing reform but think this notion goes too far and is unfair to the vast majority of good cops.
Good ideas have been proposed at the federal and state levels to address the valid concerns raised by marchers and Black community members who have witnessed too many deaths when nonlethal alternatives were available.
I was stunned a few years ago after reading my former colleague's post about teaching her beloved only child, a teen at the time, how to survive interactions with police. Moms and dads should never have to deal with this fear because they and their children have a different skin color.
Gov. Mike DeWine and others at the federal level have proposed reforms to address concerns over police misconduct and use of deadly force on non-resisting, unarmed African Americans. The Ohio legislature should act on them before members move into “campaign mode” ahead of the November election. It would deliver a strong message that lawmakers have heard Ohioans who want to see change. That includes both peaceful protesters and police officers who aren't afraid of accountability and understand that the law and policing must provide justice for all.
Contact freelance writer Michele Murphy at email@example.com.