Brooks: ‘Defund the Police’ Is ‘a Terrible Slogan’ – People Want More Police and They Want Reform

On Friday’s “PBS NewsHour,” New York Times columnist David Brooks criticized the “defund the police” slogan because people actually want more police, but they do want policing to be reformed.

Brooks said that “defund the police” is “just a terrible slogan. It’s counterproductive. Because it makes everybody think, I’m going to have no police. That is not what the American people want. After Ferguson, they asked African Americans worldwide, Gallup did, do you want a greater police presence in your neighborhood or less? And right after Ferguson, they wanted greater police presence. And that’s consistent with poll after poll after poll. People want a greater police presence. Because more police leads to less crime, which leads to less contact, which leads to less violent encounters, which leads to less incarceration. People generally like the police, but they want it done differently. And I do think there’s a possibility to get real changes in that.”

He continued, “It’s interesting how much even small reforms can make. The communities that have banned chokeholds and strangleholds have seen dramatic declines in these kind of abusive things. Even a city that said that, when there’s a chase, the cop running after the person is not going to be the first one to touch the suspect, somebody else is going to touch the suspect, that alone sharply reduces the number of violent encounters. And so, these sort of things can be done reasonably easily.”

Brooks concluded, “The harder thing, on the police front, is changing the corporate culture. We have somehow gotten the world where the police are basically like the military. They go to boot camp like the military. They dress more like the military. They have sort of a warrior ethos in some of the departments. And changing that corporate culture can be done. It’s been done in Camden and Newark and other places, but it has to be done in cities across the country.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

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