When I heard that some were demanding that the police be defunded or dismantled, I never imagined that this ridiculous idea would be debated as an actual option in Maryland. I was terribly mistaken.
Last week, the City Council of Baltimore approved $22.4 million in cuts to its police department for the upcoming fiscal year, after the public painted “DEFUND POLICE” on the street outside of City Hall. Prince George County’s Board of Education was seriously considering eliminating its Student Resource Officer program, but wised up at the last minute. In neighboring Washington, D.C., protesters are pushing for a full dismantling of its police department and believe that “communities may be better off policing themselves,” as reported by Maryland Matters.
The Baltimore Sun’s Editorial Board recently wrote, “Don’t buy the sophomoric claims that a vote for defunding is a vote for crime in low-income neighborhoods.” Baltimore Sun opinion columnist David Troy then penned a piece headlined, “Now is finally the time to disband Baltimore’s police department.” Tom Zirpoli, in a recent column advocating for police reform in the Times, wrote that the police “are like spoiled children always getting away with inappropriate behavior, then having a tantrum when finally facing a consequence.”
Calls for significant cuts to police budgets or to abolish departments altogether are not solely the rantings of anarchists, but are instead being discussed by the mainstream media and adopted by elected officials all over the United States, including many in Maryland. Supporters are trying to convince Americans that several duties that the police perform could be done better by people in other fields.
CNN published an online article headlined, “What the US would look like without police, as imagined in 3 scenarios.” CNN’s group of experts said that in a police-free America: traffic stops could be performed by county workers who pull drivers over and provide driving safety education; domestic violence calls could be handled by “domestic violence intervenors” and “neighborhood violence centers” could prevent domestic violence from taking place; and public servants who specialize in deescalating violent situations could respond to school shootings.
I am not kidding. Google it.
How about crimes such as rape, theft, assault, or murder? How do those who envision this police-free utopia think these crimes will be stopped or solved?
Baltimore City has seen 27,280 residents, or 4% of its population leave the city since 2010. Every person I have ever met who moved out of the city expressed concerns about crime and public safety as the reason for leaving. Please explain how getting rid of the police will make the city safer. According to The Baltimore Sun, the city ended 2019 with 348 homicides on record, breaking its annual per capita homicide record. The idea of stripping millions of dollars from a police department that is desperately trying to stem a tidal wave of shootings and homicides is ludicrous.
Meanwhile, in Maryland’s beach resort of Ocean City, it seems every night there are royal rumbles taking place on the boardwalk, which have resulted in folks receiving serious injuries. As a result, the Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) has increased its law enforcement presence and Gov. Hogan has deployed Maryland State Police (MSP) troopers to the town for enhanced patrol assistance. Would vacationers and residents of Ocean City feel less threatened if the OCPD and MSP were unable to increase their presence, but instead had to downsize due to budget cuts brought on by the defunding movement?
Recently, three residents of Carroll County, including an 18-year old woman, were brutally murdered. Over a half-dozen individuals have been charged with the murders or as accessories. Would the murders of these three locals have been solved if the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department in West Virginia, the Carroll County Sheriff’s Department and MSP had been abolished prior to starting their investigation leading to the arrests?
Instead of getting rid of the police, the public should be demanding that community-police relations be improved. To do that, I would suggest that police training budgets actually need to be increased to allow for officers to be able to do a better job at deescalating tense situations and make “use of force” decisions that are more carefully thought out.
I firmly believe in second chances, but I also believe evil exists and that somebody besides a social worker needs to be there to stop it or bring the evildoer to justice. The dream of a country without police may become a nightmare here in Maryland if public policy is motivated by passion and slogans and not reason and commonsense.
Christopher Tomlinson, a member of the Carroll County Republican Central Committee, writes from Melrose. Email him at CCTtomlinson@gmail.com.