Defunding the Police: Why It Needs to Happen

George+Floyd%27s+murder+sparked+some+of+the+largest+civil+rights+protests+in+American+history.

Leonhard Lenz

George Floyd’s murder sparked some of the largest civil rights protests in American history.

By Amira Cooper, Howard Community College

The pandemic has isolated us, frightened us and shoved the truth into our faces. The cruel reality, neither new nor old, of increased police brutality towards Black people has traumatized and desensitized many of us during these troubling times. With every news report of a new incident, comes another Black person dead and a new name added to the list. Questions are then raised about whether or not the police should have the power that they do or if they should be defunded.

However, the answer is clear: the police should be defunded because otherwise more Black lives will be lost.

On April 11, Daunte Wright was killed by a police officer, Kimberly Ann Potter, who mistook her gun for her taser. With her gun in hand, she shot Wright, realizing her mistake when it was too late. The fact that a police officer is allowed to make mistakes and call Wright’s murder an accident is disgusting. A mistake like this should not have occurred to an officer that was supposedly trained to be in the field. However, it is unnerving how a police officer’s training is shorter than the training for other occupations.

For instance, barbers are required to complete an average of 1,300 hours of training while police officers are only required to complete 672 hours of training before joining the force. In comparison, cosmetologists are required to complete about “1,500 hours of training in a school of cosmetology or 3,000 hours over two years under a licensed cosmetologist.”

Why are the people tasked with protecting us completing less training than other occupations? Why are we wasting money on an overfunded, undertrained occupation that only breeds murderers and manipulators?

Police officers are given a lot of power that most of them use to their advantage. We’ve seen it over and over again, especially when Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd in public and on video.

Recently, the trial, State v. Chauvin, took place to determine if Chauvin would be convicted of Floyd’s murder on three different charges. On April 20, Chauvin was found guilty by the jury on all three charges in the death of Floyd. Watching the trial was difficult because, as a Black person in America, I am confronted with all of the horrors that I and others like me have to experience.

Through the tears, frustration, angered moments and troubled sighs, we finally got justice. Floyd’s family finally got justice for their lost loved one. Unfortunately, this feeling of triumph didn’t last long.

Just minutes before Chauvin’s fate was sealed in court, Ma’khia Bryant was fatally shot four times by a police officer in her chest. Bryant, a 16-year-old girl, called the police for help because she was being attacked on her property by some girls who wouldn’t leave her alone. Once Officer Nicholas Reardon and other police officers made it to the site, their hands were already on their guns– ready to take action. As depicted in the released body cam video, Bryant charged at one of the girls with a knife and upon seeing that, Reardon instantly killed her.

All too often murders are dismissed simply because the perpetrator happens to be a police officer. (Guettarda)

While Bryant did have a deadly weapon in her possession, she didn’t deserve to die for defending herself, especially in such a fast-paced and chaotic way. Bryant was a child and this situation could have been de-escalated in many different ways with that fact in mind. Instead, she was killed as a woman, since seeing her as an adult justifies her death and Reardon’s actions in his and the media’s eyes.

Bryant’s death, Floyd’s Death and Wright’s death never should have happened.

They did not deserve to die.

No one deserves to die.

The funding that goes to the police can be dispersed towards education, healthcare and more. In Maryland, we can employ different organizations such as Hope Works and Grassroots to help us with issues that we were taught that the police should handle.

All of the police force, whether you are a good cop or a bad cop, has condoned this brutality, racism and oppression for years.”

In Howard County, we live in a bubble. A bubble of peace, mild racism, supposed color-blindness, cover-ups and ‘friendly’ cops, but that needs to stop. As we become more aware of what is going on in our world, our bubble starts to collapse.

I say, let it collapse.

Howard County isn’t perfect, Maryland isn’t perfect, America isn’t perfect. We need to realize that the more support we put towards the police will only lead to more names on the list.

I’m tired of saying their names because I’m tired of losing them. I’m afraid of the possibility that I might be next, or a friend or a family member. We shouldn’t be friendly with the police, all cops are bad. All of the police force, whether you are a good cop or a bad cop, has condoned this brutality, racism and oppression for years. They’ve become complacent with their power and the actions of their colleagues.

The police must be defunded, it is clear as to why. We need to stop depending on them because we can be fine without them. Ironically, we’ll probably be safer without them.

Now, that’s a world I would be fine living in.

This story was originally published on HCC Times on April 28, 2021.