Written by Sacramento County Supervisor Sue Frost
The killing of George Floyd was horrific – and the officers responsible have been arrested and will stand trial. But now politicians and activists are blaming everyone in a uniform. “Defund the police” has become the rallying call for protesters.
Activists want to strip money from law-enforcement, disband police, close jails and prisons, then divert public funds to community groups, counselors, and social workers for “community empowerment.”
What does that mean? It means instead of police and sheriffs enforcing the law, taxpayer funds will go to private non-profits run by activists and programs like “Advance Peace” which pays gang members $500 a month not to shoot each other.
How will reducing the number of police officers make the community safer? In 2018, police officers
arrested 11,970 murderers, 495,900 violent criminals, and more than 1 million drunk drivers. In
February of this year, a months-long investigation resulted in 518 arrests when police smashed a human
trafficking ring and rescued hundreds of children who were being sold into prostitution. Do activists
think that councilors and community groups are going to detain violent gang members, break human
trafficking rings, or get drunk drivers off our roads? No alternative to an organized, well-funded, and
well-trained police force offers enforcement ability on such a high level.
In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti recently announced that he was going to “defund police” by cutting
$150 million from the LAPD budget. Cities like San Francisco, Portland, Minneapolis, and Baltimore have
announced that they will pursue efforts to “defund police.” Political “leaders” in Congress and State
Houses have echoed the call and introduced legislation to cut funding for law enforcement – or punish
jurisdictions who refuse to do so.
The vast majority of police budgets go to personnel, so the budget cut means one thing: firing police
officers. Which officers will be fired? A common practice for addressing mass budget reductions
through layoffs and that has been used by the LAPD in the past is LIFO (last in, first out). That means that
Garcetti’s “defund” policy will result in firing recent recruits – young black, Asian and Latino officers who
were recruited from, and reflect, the very neighborhoods who are underrepresented and suffer the
most from crime.
Sadly, this movement is not new. In 2015 Camden New Jersey pushed a “defund police” measure. They
dismantled their department and disbanded the police officers’ union. They placed some activists in
oversight positions and hired most the police back – at a lower salary. Some believe the effort was really
more about breaking the union than reforming the system. Today, many of the same complaints have
Eliminating law enforcement is the opposite of a solution – we cannot abandon our communities to the
whims of gangs and criminals who prey on neighborhoods. We do need to encourage investment in
poor neighborhoods where crime is rampant, schools are failing, and hope is abandoned.
Empowerment zones, school choice, and incentives for investment have seen tremendous success.
Communities that partner with police, rather than fight with them, have seen a marked improvement in
crime reduction, complaints against police, and more recruitment of people from the community into law enforcement – community members who have relationships and earnestly want to make lives better and have the training to enforce the law.
This rush to respond to “defund police” activists is not reform – it is retribution and appeasement. And it
is dangerous. The result will be every community and every resident will be less safe.
We need more community engagement and understanding, not less. We should be investing in more
training, recruiting, and community engagement, not eliminating prisons and defunding police.
Thank you for reading – and as always, if you want to contact me, call me at 916-874-5491, or e-mail me
Sue Frost represents the 4th District, which includes all or part of the communities of Citrus Heights,
Folsom, Orangevale, Antelope, Rio Linda, Elverta, Gold River, Rancho Murieta, North Highlands,
Carmichael, Foothill Farms and Fair Oaks