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How do we think about institutional racism in the American police force? Show more Show less
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On June 8 2020, Minneapolis City Council announced it would be dismantling its police force. In its place, they pledged to introduce a new model for public safety, free from the institutional racism that had plagued its police. The decision was unprecedented, and yet, it has been followed by similar moves across the US, for police budget cuts and investigations into how they are run. At the heart of this debate is the question of institutional racism: where it comes from, how it manifests, and how it can be overcome. Following George Floyd's murder, pressure has grown for perceived systemic oppression to be addressed. Others argue that this is a myth, and that police are being victimised for the ills of society. The way that people are mobilising around this question reveals the fundamental ideas that drive their perspectives. So, who are these groups, what do they stand for, and why?

'The police are not the issue!': The police should not be blamed for the problems of a racialized society Show more Show less

This position believes that the police are the standard bearers of law and order. Limited government is fundamental to protect individual liberty. Strong police are required to protect limited government. Whether institutional racism is real, or a myth, focusing on the role of the police is both misleading and counterproductive.
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A reduced police presence is dangerous for everyone

This important debate about race relations has been subverted by emphasis on the police. Much academic research has shown that increasing visible police presence reduces crime rates. The same cannon of research shows that areas with higher crime rates have more police. Scaling back law enforcement would have dangerous repercussions for all. Proponents include Fox anchor Laura Ingraham and Republican senator Ted Cruz.

The Argument

This important debate about race relations has been subverted by an emphasis on the police. Those who argue for a reduction in police department size or abolishment of police altogether are ignoring the many studies that have shown that an increased police force does have an impact on crime reduction, particularly in property crime. Even police strikes of the past have resulted in increased crime rates [1], and areas with extra police presence have shown decreases in crime.[2] The police force utilizes other policing tactics that aren’t limited to patrols and arrests, such as digital tactics and data collection which successfully aid in crime reduction. This is a tool that is overlooked in the discussion about the usefulness of police.[3] Hiring increases in police departments have shown an increase in community policing and a reduction in crime rates within those communities. Increased police presence often deters criminality, and an increase in police does not necessarily mean more arrests or more incarceration.

Counter arguments

The majority of studies on whether increased police departments reduce crime are murky at best, and many show little to no difference in reducing crime rates. Many incidents that police are called for often require more interpersonal and social work skills than police are trained for, so their increased presence is ineffective in reducing complex and violent crimes. Funding could be better utilized in community programs that work to effectively reduce crimes and utilizing police presence only when and where it is truly necessary, such as high-alert or crime hotspots. [4]

Proponents

Premises

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://cebcp.org/evidence-based-policing/what-works-in-policing/research-evidence-review/increasing-department-size/
  2. https://www.city-journal.org/bolstering-police-forces-reduces-crime
  3. https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2015/02/more-police-managed-more-effectively-really-can-reduce-crime/385390/
  4. https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/blog/more-bobbies-beat-are-unlikely-reduce-crime

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This page was last edited on Saturday, 5 Sep 2020 at 18:00 UTC

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