What Defunding The Police Actually Looks Like - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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#15098979
Source:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... sinessweek

Across the U.S., protesters have taken to the streets to express rage after the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin. The demonstrations themselves have led to more police shows of force. In Brooklyn, two cops rammed their New York City Police Department SUVs into a crowd of protesters. In Philadelphia, officers sprayed tear gas at demonstrators who were penned in between a highway and a fence.

But across the Delaware River from Philadelphia in Camden, N.J. (population 74,000), officers left the riot gear at home and brought an ice cream truck to a march on May 30. The police department’s chief, Joseph Wysocki, who is white, brandished a “Standing in Solidarity” poster alongside residents holding “Black Lives Matter” signs.

That Camden was able to demonstrate peacefully without escalation looked like a sign of progress in a city that’s one of the country’s poorest and was once considered its most dangerous. “What we’re experiencing today in Camden is the result of many years of deposits in the relationship bank account,” says Scott Thomson, Camden’s chief of police until 2019. He led the city’s high-profile pivot to community policing from 2013 until last year and oversaw what turned out to be a steep decline in crime. Homicides in Camden reached 67 in 2012; the figure for 2019 was 25. Over the past seven years, the department has undertaken some of the most far-reaching police reforms in the country, and its approach has been praised by former President Barack Obama.

The transformation began after the 2012 homicide spike. The department wanted to put more officers on patrol but couldn’t afford to hire more, partly because of generous union contracts. So in 2013, the mayor and city council dissolved the local PD and signed an agreement for the county to provide shared services. The new county force is double the size of the old one, and officers almost exclusively patrol the city. (They were initially nonunion but have since unionized.) Increasing the head count was a trust-building tactic, says Thomson, who served as chief throughout the transition: Daily, noncrisis interactions between residents and cops went up. Police also got de-escalation training and body cameras, and more cameras and devices to detect gunfire were installed around the city.

While many departments define “reasonable” force in the line of duty vaguely, Camden’s definition is much clearer. The department adopted an 18-page use-of-force policy in 2019, developed with New York University’s Policing Project. The rules emphasize that de-escalation has to come first. Deadly force—such as a chokehold or firing a gun—can only be used in certain situations, once every other tactic has been exhausted. “It requires that force is not only reasonable and necessary, but that it’s proportionate,” says Farhang Heydari, executive director of the Policing Project. Most important, “they’re requirements. They’re not suggestions.”

An officer who sees a colleague violating the edict must intervene; the department can fire any officer it finds acted out of line. By the department’s account, reports of excessive force complaints in Camden have dropped 95% since 2014.

Like most matters of policing, however, Camden’s success story isn’t that simple. Members of the police force are now more likely to live in the suburbs than in the city of Camden, according to the local NAACP chapter. “Ninety percent of Camden’s population is minority—we have a lot of young individuals who don’t look like us that are getting these jobs,” says Kevin Barfield, the chapter president.

The higher number of officers on the streets was uncomfortable at first, says Nyeema Watson, Rutgers University at Camden’s associate chancellor for civic engagement, who helped connect the new department to local youth in its early days. “You felt that this eye was on you. It took me some time to adjust to having [police] cars stationed on major thoroughfares,” she says. “That still raises the hair on my neck sometimes, but I know their approach is an attempt to say ‘We’re here, we’re visible.’ ”

In a 2015 report, the American Civil Liberties Union praised Camden for its reforms but noted a “significant increase in low-level arrests and summonses.” The department says it’s mindful of overpursuing petty offenses. “We know when we police a city that has 30% of the residents under the poverty line, a $400 speeding ticket or ticket in general would be absolutely devastating financially,” says Dan Keashen, a spokesman for the Camden County Police Department.

Community organizer Ayinde Merrill and other activists are pushing to create a civilian review board for cases in which force is used. Merrill says the May 30 march felt co-opted by police and city leaders: “We didn’t feel as though the police were truly standing with us. If you’re truly standing with us, come and march with us in plain clothes.”

As some activists call for cities to defund the police, Camden’s reforms are more incremental in nature. “I think the challenge is that you have 18,000 police departments” in the U.S., says Thomson. “It’s an industry that generally is averse to any type of change. The only time change comes is when it’s compelled.”

BOTTOM LINE - After rebuilding its police force, Camden drove down homicides and reined in use of excessive force. Local activists say police-community relations could still be better.
#15099016
So when you guys say you want to defund the police, what you really mean is that you want to bust police unions (if necessary, by asking the county to take over policing and paying a fee to the county government for providing these services), and take advantage of the new, more city-friendly contracts to double the police force?

If so, then yeah, I don't see anything wrong with it. But I doubt it can be applied in large cities.
#15099028
@wat0n

See, I am a union guy (I am not in a union but I support the right of workers to unionize and strike as well as civil servants like the police to unionize) and I believe that both workers and police should be able to unionize. I can't be a supporter of unions for workers and not a supporter of unions for police. I think both should be able to unionize and we need laws on the books that make unions stronger. That being said, more funding could go towards helping to cure the ills of society rather than adding more cops which only tackle the symptoms of the disease.
Last edited by Politics_Observer on 10 Jun 2020 02:02, edited 1 time in total.
#15099029
Politics_Observer wrote:@wat0n

See, I am a union guy and I believe that both workers and police should be able to unionize. I can't be a supporter of unions for workers and not a supporter of unions for police. I think both should be able to unionize and we need laws on the books that make unions stronger. That being said, more funding could go towards helping to cure the ills of society rather than adding more cops which only tackle the symptoms of the disease.


What do you think about the role of police unions in all of this? Do you think Camden's reform could be regarded as an union busting measure? The Bloomberg article implies so.
#15099033
@wat0n

I don't know as I am not thoroughly familiar with Camden's case and if those police reforms really did any good or not. But I can understand and see why police would want a union, especially when you consider that politicians will sometimes railroad legitimately innocent cops if it is politically convenient for them to do so. That has happened in the past. Plus, it does give the police a voice which I think like anybody, they deserve to be heard too. There is two sides to every story. I am not saying the police are always right but they certainly deserve the benefits of union membership just like regular workers do.
#15099044
@Donna

Maybe workers should start wising up and follow the example of the police and unionize too. The police unions certainly are looking out for the best interests of the police and I am sure unions would do the same for workers as well.
#15099048
Politics_Observer wrote:@Donna

Maybe workers should start wising up and follow the example of the police and unionize too. The police unions certainly are looking out for the best interests of the police and I am sure unions would do the same for workers as well.


Lets ban police unions until the rest of the private sector catches up then :)
#15099050
@Donna

Donna wrote:Lets ban police unions until the rest of the private sector catches up then :)


Yeah, and then nobody will have a union and the rich will get richer. Which is probably what you want given you are a Marxist :D .
#15099052
@wat0n leftists have never supported police unions.

Politics_Observer wrote:@Donna



Yeah, and then nobody will have a union and the rich will get richer. Which is probably what you want given you are a Marxist :D .


This is pretty dumb. Please explain why the rich would get richer as a result of less police unionization.
#15099054
@wat0n

People here in the U.S. think that unions are "communist" or "Marxist" but true Marxists don't believe in unions. What they want is violent revolution and the violent overthrow of capitalism. Unions get in the way of that. Marxists are not pro-union. The notion that Marxists is pro-union is a myth.
#15099056
Politics_Observer wrote:@wat0n

People here in the U.S. think that unions are "communist" or "Marxist" but true Marxists don't believe in unions. What they want is violent revolution and the violent overthrow of capitalism. Unions get in the way of that. Marxists are not pro-union.


Unions are fine if they're not not racist and reactionary. :)
#15099057
@Donna

That's not what Marxists think of unions. They see unions as a waste of time for the working class and that it's best for the working class to simply revolt and overthrow capitalism rather than waste time with union membership. I am assuming you are a Marxist.
#15099059
Politics_Observer wrote:@Donna

That's not what Marxists think of unions. They see unions as a waste of time for the working class and that it's best for the working class to simply revolt and overthrow capitalism rather than waste time with union membership.


Source?
#15099060
Donna wrote:@wat0n leftists have never supported police unions.


That's not true. Samuel Gompers and the AFL did support the unionization of the Boston Police and the strike that followed it, well, at least until they had to deal with the fallout from it.

@Politics_Observer that's not quite true either, unions are supported if they are revolutionary. I do believe though they would not support America's unions because they were and are not Marxist.
#15099063
Politics_Observer wrote:@Donna



Yeah, and then nobody will have a union and the rich will get richer. Which is probably what you want given you are a Marxist :D .

I worry that it is too simple to posit the police as simply another set of workers and thus their unions are in the shared class interest and struggle.
But what is the function of the police? The optimist says protection of community, the cynical side, the front lone of armed men to enforce the states interest which is clearly in the hands of a ruling class which aren’t workers.

https://www.ethicalpolitics.org/ablunden/works/ethics.htm
Abstract political rights should ensure that the capitalist class ultimately control the state which is being relied upon as the custodian of workers' (and women's and children's, etc.] rights. Still, the bourgeoisie are systematically shrinking the state and stripping it back to its essence - the military and police. In their zeal, the bourgeoisie don't know when to stop, and we see things like the contracting out of logistics by the army.

And when the state is increasingly stripped back to these elements, to what function is it but increasingly one of force than of the appearance of legitimacy.

Look at the mass of people who immediately gathered around the cause of opposing police brutality and where police stand in relation to those people.
Here I am not stating an answer one way or the other but trying to complicate the view of police as workers are synonymous or interchangeable with other workers as a possible social subject in line with humanity's universal interest.
The fact of being a worker in relation to production doesn’t in itself present oneself as in line with the best aims of the working class.

There can in fact be quite the gap between the objective interest of a class and its expressed interest.
And do note there are many people of the working class but that alone doesn’t make them the very subject in which Marx hoped them to become in order to change things. They can be objectively workers yet consciously limited in their struggle and thus in Hegelian terms exist only at a left of being-in-itself. That is unconscious of its own being, as is often characteristic of Americans even whilst they vaguely know of the words worker and such but hardly the concept of them.
[url]eprints.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/555/7/Blackledge%20on%20MacIntyre%20for%20ACPQ%20Submitted%20Version.pdf[/url]
Far from allowing Lukács to slip back towards a form of dualism, it opened a space within which he was able to conceptualise socialist political intervention within the class struggle in a non-emotivist but yet activist way by means of the generalisations about class interests that could be made on the basis of the history of workers’ struggles. For instance, to say that workers have an objective interest in challenging racism even in the absence of an anti-racist movement does not imply imposing the idea of anti-racism onto the working class. Rather, it functions as a generalisation about objective interests made on the basis of previous moments of struggle.
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