Abolish Cops Now
June 2, 2020 5:44 PM   Subscribe

Defunding The Police Will Save Black And Indigenous Lives In Canada When victims are not the right kinds of victims, police have utterly failed. When the queer community in Toronto told police there was a serial killer targeting racialized queer men in the Church Street village, the police openly denied there was a serial killer and did not take the threat seriously. This allowed serial killer Bruce MacArthur to get away with murdering at least eight men over at least seven years.

In British Columbia, police failed to apprehend serial killer Robert Pickton for over 20 years, and this failure meant that Picton was able to murder 49 women. The majority of these women were Indigenous, and police routinely refuse to take the disappearance of Indigenous women seriously. When Toronto police attended to the suspicious death of Black transwoman Sumaya Dalmar in 2015, they closed the investigation without ruling it a homicide or releasing a cause of death after social media outcry.
Instead of relying on police, we could rely on well-trained social workers, sociologists, forensic scientists, doctors, researchers and other well-trained individuals to fulfill our needs when violent crimes take place. In the event that intervention is required while a violent crime is ongoing, a service that provides expert specialized rapid response does not need to be connected to an institution of policing that fails in every other respect. Such a specific tactical service does not require the billions of dollars we waste in ineffective policing from year to year.

An American perspective: No More Money for the Police
posted by plant or animal (84 comments total) 59 users marked this as a favorite
I'm glad to see this article; Hudson was brushed off by the CBC the other day for advancing this position:
"Anyway at some point the producer interrupted me and said, "excuse me? I'm sorry, did you just say *defund* the police? I just wanna make sure I heard you properly."

She sounded incredulous.

I said yes and continued. She then said (and no Current or CBC producer has *ever* said this to me), "just so you know we have a bunch of people chasing this story so I don't know if we'll be able to confirm...I'll circle back if we can have you on."
... and I'm happy she got a prominent place to elaborate it in full. Policing is an outdated, regressive practice that we need to put behind us.
posted by mhoye at 6:35 PM on June 2 [15 favorites]

I'm feeling like this is a definite coordinated effort by messengers who are speaking to media right now. I've heard about the concept of no police or defunding the police 3 times now in the past 2 days through completely different routes. It's an idea that could have legs. We'll see how well the messaging continues to carry it and fill it out.
posted by hippybear at 6:47 PM on June 2 [3 favorites]

I was a victim of a violent crime, and I watched four police officers use beanbag guns and physical force to take down and safely capture my assailant. I find this kind of idea an interesting thought experiment - and potentially helpful in reforming how police forces are constituted and trained. But taken too literally, I think it is naive and unrealistic, and also likely to mystify if not alienate most citizens, whose support is essential in a democracy.
posted by PhineasGage at 7:00 PM on June 2 [18 favorites]

Given that a third of people killed by strangers are killed by the police, reducing the number of trigger-happy people keeping property safe instead of people is paramount. Modern American police forces started as slave-catching patrols and very little has changed.

Well, they have a shitload more military-surplus gear and unlimited amounts of tear gas, as the last week has shown.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 7:09 PM on June 2 [30 favorites]

I'm sure it's been brought up, but Angela Davis' Are Prisons Obselete? is an indispensable text if you want to understand modern abolitionism.
posted by jy4m at 7:47 PM on June 2 [14 favorites]

Maybe it would help to make them wear blazers.
posted by emjaybee at 7:51 PM on June 2 [7 favorites]

Abolish the separate police union and roll it in with other municipal services.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:10 PM on June 2 [19 favorites]

I believe this is Sandy of Sandy and Nora; their latest episode is "Abolish the Police." I just started listening, so no comments from me yet.
posted by invokeuse at 8:17 PM on June 2 [5 favorites]

I'm not smart enough to decide whether getting rid of the police is a good idea, but I did find this article on police reforms in Camden that happened a few years back which emphasize force as a last resort instead of a first resort interesting. Some folks are saying it's why Camden's protests have remained largely peaceful; sounds like they've been able to mostly get rid of officers who feel emotional stress if they can't use force.
posted by clawsoon at 8:51 PM on June 2 [7 favorites]

As an interim measure officers should be wearing badge numbers the way athletes wear names on their jerseys, so you can tell exactly who they are from two hundred meters away. Legal liability costs should come from the police budget rather than the city's general fund. But these are intermediate measures.
posted by mhoye at 8:55 PM on June 2 [31 favorites]

When the queer community in Toronto told police there was a serial killer targeting racialized queer men in the Church Street village, the police openly denied there was a serial killer and did not take the threat seriously

This happens over and over again and it always perplexes me. You'd think that cops would be all over the chance to nail a serial killer but you see documented examples of cops brushing off reports of serial predators all the time. Some times it seems like every serial killer story has at least one of these stories associated with them.

Instead of relying on police, we could rely on well-trained social workers, sociologists, forensic scientists, doctors, researchers and other well-trained individuals to fulfill our needs when violent crimes take place.

It sounds pretty radical to disband the police but on the other hand it's hard to imagine the above people given police levels of funding taking 26 months to DNA test a suspected serial rapist responsible for at least a couple dozen attacks/rapes. 26 months which would let him and his wife rape and kill his sister in law and at least two other teenagers.
posted by Mitheral at 9:12 PM on June 2 [13 favorites]

Toronto council is soon to debate the upcoming budget, including the $1 billion we spend each year on police. I've written to my councilor and the mayor to drastically reduce funding spent there. When we say "defund the police," we're saying stop spending (wasting) money on police who don't resolve social issues, and spend that money instead on social programs that do resolve those issues.

We have real problems with homelessness, drug abuse, and mental health in this city, and programs to address those problems are critically underfunded. Instead, we send cops to break up tent cities, throw drug addicts in jail, and sending under- and un-trained officers to deal with people already having the worst days of their lives.

And this was all before coronavirus and the massive hole blown in the budget there. The TTC, our transit system that the city relies on to function, does not have the operating revenue for the rest of the year at this point. Instead, we spend that money on cops who harass commuters and arrest the occasional fare-dodger.

Cops make these problems worse and they cost too much money in the process.

Defund the police.
posted by Imperfect at 9:29 PM on June 2 [38 favorites]

Have a "memorial badge" that you can use to cover your badge number? Lose your job.

Pretty simple.
posted by Windopaene at 10:22 PM on June 2 [11 favorites]

If a municipality defunds it's police, I expect it will go as well as de-Baathification did in Iraq. We need a deNazification program for these guys or theyll turn Into a criminal force. South Africa should be the model here.
posted by benzenedream at 10:38 PM on June 2 [10 favorites]

I was a victim of a violent crime, and I watched four police officers use beanbag guns and physical force to take down and safely capture my assailant. I find this kind of idea an interesting thought experiment - and potentially helpful in reforming how police forces are constituted and trained. But taken too literally, I think it is naive and unrealistic, and also likely to mystify if not alienate most citizens, whose support is essential in a democracy.

A doctor once saved my life. I later found out that this doctor did much more harm than good; he saved mine because I was white, but kept killing non-white patients he could have saved either intentionally or by negligence, and that’s only scratching the surface of his malpractice. Still, I don’t see why he should lose his license — he saved my life! Probably even some black lives too!
Another interesting thought-experiment: trying to RTFA (or even like 1/10th of it) before making literally the most knee-jerk kind of response possible (which the article anticipates and addresses in like the third paragraph). ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by LeviQayin at 11:38 PM on June 2 [33 favorites]

Alex Vitale’s The End of Policing is free in ebook format right now (Verso is encouraging people to donate to a bail fund in lieu of the price).
posted by robcorr at 12:32 AM on June 3 [5 favorites]

I was a victim of a violent crime, and I watched four police officers use beanbag guns and physical force to take down and safely capture my assailant. I find this kind of idea an interesting thought experiment - and potentially helpful in reforming how police forces are constituted and trained. But taken too literally, I think it is naive and unrealistic, and also likely to mystify if not alienate most citizens, whose support is essential in a democracy.

I think the key to explaining it is that we use the police to do a whole basket of different tasks. Some of those are things we all agree are worthwhile, some of them there is disagreement, and some things that police does "for" our society are widely considered actively harmful.

So the police:
-Manage traffic, traffic safety, driver behaviour, and the condition of cars on the road
-Investigate crimes which have been committed, assemble evidence, and pass that onto prosecutors
-Carry out patrols looking for various things
-Manage interactions with people on the edges of society
-Resolve disputes between people
-Intervene as they did in your case to use physical force to stop crimes in progress or apprehend people who may be dangerous
-Disperse and control riots

And unofficially in many places:
-Maintain a system of racist terror
-Keep "those people" out of certain areas

The problem is that we train and equip a force that is allegedly "for" the things at the beginning of the list as if it existed only to carry out high-risk arrests and intervene in shootouts. No-one is claiming that nothing currently done by the police needs doing. The argument is more that we don't need one group of heavily armed people doing all of them.

For instance, we handle parking fines in most places by civil enforcement. No cops involved. Why are we pulling people over for apparent mechanical defects like tail-lights on their cars? Send them a fine or an order to fix it.

Why is it necessary for detectives to be part of the police force and to come up through the arresting and intervention focused patrol arm of the organisation? That can be done by a separate group of people with training in forensics and law, not people who first have to spend years walking the street dealing with petty crime.

Working with homeless people, drug addicts etc. is a social work issue.

Casual patrol of the streets is a job that mixes elements of social work, knowing the community, education, etc. I'll point out that in many "nice" areas, police barely patrol at all actually. The skills for doing this do not naturally seem to overlap with many of the other parts of the job.

Sure, we can keep a small group of people whose job is purely to carry out arrests of violent criminals. They can spend all the free time they will have when they are not doing that training in de-escalation and safe physical restraint.

So when people are calling for the end of police, they are almost never saying: "we don't need any of those things to be done", what they are saying is that some things shouldn't be done, others should be done by people with specialist training, and at most a small core of what we now think of as "police" would need to continue to exist.
posted by atrazine at 1:24 AM on June 3 [88 favorites]

Historian Steve Hewitt (University of Birmingham) has written extensively about the history of the RCMP in Canada as agents of the state who enforced the government’s colonialist agenda.

First, they forcibly removed Indigenous people to reserves so that the government could take over their land. Then in the 20th century, for decades they kidnapped Indigenous children and took them to residential schools where they were forcibly stripped of their culture and physically, emotionally, and sexually abused. Many children died from abuse in residential schools and many of their parents were never informed. Later/at the same time, the RCMP colluded with the agenda of provincial child welfare ministries to tear children from their Indigenous families, so they could be adopted out to white families in Canada and the US (the “Sixties Scoop”).

The RCMP have also, for decades, carried out extensive surveillance on academics, civil rights activists (including abortion rights activists) and environmental protesters.

This doesn’t even begin to address the extent of police brutality towards minorities in Canada.

This isn’t a case of individual bad actors. This is a system with deep roots in colonization and preservation of the status quo that rewards exploitation and abuse. It’s my belief that the RCMP and policing in Canada in general (not all communities have the RCMP; some have municipal police) have been poisoned right from the beginning by their colonialist roots. I don’t believe they have changed enough to have earned the trust of indigenous people, other minorities, women, or civil rights/ environmental activists. They’ve had plenty of notice and opportunity to change, and I think it’s time to consider wholesale change imposed from the outside.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:43 AM on June 3 [30 favorites]

I genuinely don't know what abolishing the police even looks like, and in general I'm sceptical that it's possible to abolish aspects of any complex system without a plan to, essentially, refactor it.

But I came across Robert Peel's principles for a 'modern' police force, and one of his key ideas was that the police should see themselves as part of the community, and feel accountable to community standards. Obviously most American cops don't live up to that, and they are of course garbage, but I couldn't really point to any police force, even in countries with "good" police, that lived up to those ideals. Like, even New Zealand's police force, with their goofy selfies with citizens, have a recruitment ad that mostly shows them being cool and tough and very definitely not ordinary folks with a uniform, and they have their own Black Lives Matter protest so I guess they don't have that community support either.

So I'm of the opinion, these days, that police largely can't live up to that ideal of being empowered with special privileges but still seeing themselves as part of the community, and thus the idea of the modern police force is fundamentally unworkable.
posted by Merus at 1:58 AM on June 3 [8 favorites]

I find this discussion interesting, but are there any examples of successful large-scale police reform? Ukraine gave it a go a few years ago, and from a cursory reading on the subject it seems like they had some initial successes but it floundered for lack of vision in the later stages. Maybe the experiences of South African police post-apartheid can give some insight? IDK, off to read up a bit.
posted by Harald74 at 2:00 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]

I've heard Northern Ireland?
posted by Merus at 2:10 AM on June 3

Huh, I looked into police education, and one of Norway's biggest newspapers is currently running the story Police education in Louisiana: 9 weeks. Nail designer: 12 weeks. It's behind a paywall, but you can have a peek at the nice photo they're headlining the story with here.

I'm guessing that the article points out that police education in Norway is a 3-year bachelor program to contrast.
posted by Harald74 at 2:14 AM on June 3 [7 favorites]

I find this discussion interesting, but are there any examples of successful large-scale police reform

There’s a good thread on Twitter from Samuel Sinyangwe about what has worked and what hasn’t in reducing police violence.
posted by rodlymight at 6:00 AM on June 3 [10 favorites]

FBI statistics on clearance rates. Even in cases where we want police to do something, like apprehending a robber, are they doing that at a rate that justifies the cost?
posted by tofu_crouton at 6:45 AM on June 3 [9 favorites]

I don't think the police need to go away as a concept, but there needs to be a massive overhaul in the way the public has oversight on policing. There need to be actual repercussions to police misconduct, both for the officers in question and the force as a whole. In Canadian cities that have much less violent crime and murder than their comparably sized US counterparts, the police budgets also need to be comparably smaller. And many roles currently held by police, from traffic enforcement to first responders for mental health emergencies, need to be taken away from the police and handed over to orgs that don't have guns on their hips.
posted by thecjm at 7:59 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]

posted by sunset in snow country at 8:00 AM on June 3 [8 favorites]

One reform I'd like to see immediately is to stop organizing police forces as a paramilitary: get rid of ranks, replace them with job titles, get rid of paramilitary uniforms (not mention fucking camoflage), get rid of salutes and just do a job like the rest of us.

In the case of the RCMP: why do we have a cavalry regiment as our national police force?
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 8:50 AM on June 3 [22 favorites]

I found the article disingenuous and incoherent.

I do agree that the police are asked to do too many wildly disparate things, and some of the functions could be split out to other departments. But Instead of relying on police, we could rely on well-trained social workers, sociologists, forensic scientists, doctors, researchers and other well-trained individuals to fulfill our needs when violent crimes take place? LOL at that gentle eliding that the 'other well-trained individuals' would need to be able and willing to actually arrest and confine the violent criminals. They would be police. Abolishing officially sanctioned force will only result in privately sanctioned force taking over. We know this.

Modern policing expects police to be capable of responding safely to violence but not go in planning on it happening. This is directly counter to every instinct humans have re: violence and planning. It's a real problem, and the current police culture and training make it worse instead of addressing it.

But transferring first-contact to some other organization is not going to change that. It's simply going to transform that other organization into the source of inappropriate violence, because they are being sent into inherently adversarial situations. It's not possible to count on things like traffic stops or noise complaints being non-violent. The article is flat out lying when it says things like:

The minor services police provide — adherence to bylaw infractions, traffic services, attending to noise complaints — can be enforced by civilian services. In Ontario in 2015, Marc Ekamba-Boekwa was shot at 19 times and killed by Peel police after a noise complaint was made in his Mississauga, Ont. public-housing complex. Do we really need police attending to noise complaints with lethal force?

The police are equipped with the capability to be violent because they are put in the way of people who are going to be violent. Traffic stops and noise complaints are a classic examples of situations that can turn violent very quickly, because you do not know what a drunk partier or belligerent speeder is going to do.

There's a discussion to be had about whether all police should have guns. There's a discussion to be had about different first-responder setups and better first-responder triage and whether we even need to send physical responders into some of these situations at all. There's a discussion to be had about the overlap between policing and social work and how to not cross those streams so badly.

This article is not having that discussion. This article is busily throwing around rhetorical flourishes to avoid having any of those discussions.
posted by Ahniya at 9:51 AM on June 3 [5 favorites]

> why do we have a cavalry regiment as our national police force?

History? They're not just Canada's FBI. They cover day to day local policing in rural areas, based in small towns but covering wide areas in provinces with no provincial police force.

They don't act militarily, and more so than any other police force in the country, even given the name and dress uniform.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 9:55 AM on June 3

Hi, LeviQayin! Yes, thanks, I did RTFA. And this is the section you cite:
Perhaps you are thinking to yourself, “What about violent crime?”

I hear you. And I want you to consider this simple fact: police do not prevent violence.
That's a fatuous assertion, not backed by argument nor facts. In just the one situation I mentioned, a violent, unstable individual was stopped from attacking any others after me, and force was absolutely required to arrest him. I watched as the police officers did a superb job of subduing my assailant without injury to anyone. To claim that fear of arrest has zero deterrent effect in society - or that force is never required to capture some violent individuals - is just silly.

I have worked in a maximum security state prison and I currently minister to the homeless. In the real world there are complexities. Everyone here agrees the aggressive policing model is misguided and harmful in many many many MANY situations where it is currently used. As I said above, there are many important ideas for reforming the police forces in every town and city, and this is a fantastic thread filled with such ideas. But I don't think an absolutist stance of 'defund the police' is the right way to achieve a more just and safe society for everyone. I don't think it is practical or effective, nor will it win over many of the voters who choose our elected officials, which often includes judges, police commissioners, and DAs.

I'm interested in seeing meaningful reforms in our broken systems of policing, rather than absolutist advocacy that sadly accomplishes little.
posted by PhineasGage at 9:59 AM on June 3 [6 favorites]

We have real problems with homelessness, drug abuse, and mental health in this city... Cops make these problems worse

This is the essence of the argument I think.
posted by grog at 10:03 AM on June 3 [4 favorites]

Relevant: MPLS City Council member tweets epic thread kicking off with accusing the police department as an organization of being "irredeemably beyond reform." After reaming the police union for not being a real union that has solidarity with other unions, and claiming that the department has lost the support of the people (i.e. downtown business owners) who normally cry nonstop for more cops on the beat, he winds up with
I don’t know yet, though several of us on the council are working on finding out, what it would take to disband the MPD and start fresh with a community-oriented, non-violent public safety and outreach capacity.

Our city needs a public safety capacity that doesn’t fear our residents. That doesn’t need a gun at a community meeting. That considers itself part of our community. That doesn’t resort quickly to pepper spray when people are understandably angry. That doesn’t murder black men.

We can totally reimagine what public safety means, what skills we’re recruiting for, what tools we do and don’t need. We can invest in cultural competency and mental health training, de-escalation and conflict resolution.

We can send a city response that makes situations better. We can resolve confusion over a $20 grocery transaction without drawing a weapon, or pulling out handcuffs.
posted by Aardvark Cheeselog at 10:31 AM on June 3 [12 favorites]

If we're talking anecdotal evidence then boy howdy some of the shit I have heard in the past few days outweighs a good cop story any day

I am in fact a bit of a policy nerd which is why I have chosen to support Campaign Zero which has an excellent set of policy solutions and Black Futures Lab which supports the Black community to develop policy and mobilize to enact it. But there is a time for policy and a time for rhetoric, and a time for debating the minutiae and a time for shutting the hell up and listening to Black people

The racist roots of American policing: From slave patrols to traffic stops

defund the police
posted by sunset in snow country at 11:00 AM on June 3 [9 favorites]

Long article / short book on the history of the Minneapolis police department here.
posted by MillMan at 11:01 AM on June 3


"An RCMP officer in Kinngait (Cape Dorset) has been removed from the community after a video was taken of the Mountie hitting an intoxicated man with his truck. There are now six active investigations of RCMP incidents in Nunavut." (twitter link, CW: has video of the incident)
posted by wj.wahiga at 11:23 AM on June 3 [5 favorites]

Worth noting only 39,000 people live in Nunavut.
posted by Mitheral at 11:29 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]

Hi, LeviQayin! Yes, thanks, I did RTFA. And this is the section you cite:
Perhaps you are thinking to yourself, “What about violent crime?”

I hear you. And I want you to consider this simple fact: police do not prevent violence.
That's a fatuous assertion, not backed by argument nor facts.
Backed by law, though, at least in the US: Warren v. District of Columbia: Justices Rule Police Do Not Have a Constitutional Duty to Protect Someone

And by research and expert experience: Declining numbers of cops nationwide worry big city officials, but experts say there is little evidence that more cops equals less crime.
posted by Lexica at 12:23 PM on June 3 [9 favorites]

Vox just posted an in-depth look at this topic.
posted by PhineasGage at 1:03 PM on June 3 [1 favorite]

There s also the problem of police being rapists, which was covered by Wyatt Cenac in his show "Problem Areas." Basically Wyatt Cenac is a hilarious genius ahead of his time, and you should watch that show. The man has a whole season of television with dark humor regarding policing, interspersed with expert opinion.
posted by eustatic at 1:37 PM on June 3 [3 favorites]

Bernie Sanders calls for reform, including some increased funding. I'll be curious to see where the polling goes after all this chaos, but the fact that Sanders won't touch abolition is telling.
posted by factory123 at 1:48 PM on June 3

CBC Interviewer: you're the second guest of mine this hour to talk about defunding police as a solution to bring about change: what does that mean, what does that look like … ?
Desmond Cole: not to be glib but defunding the police means defunding the police
And Desmond made that response with only the tiniest flicker of side-eye to the interviewer. Considering the interviewer kicked off with full-on dismissal/aggression at 0'21" (as a matter of fact you know him well and his … uh, positions) it went very well. Of course, since Canada is officially not racist, the 5.7K 👎s that the video got must've come from down south …

Then I go on to read that a TPS insider appears to have leaked Regis Korchinski-Paquet's last few moment alive in police presence to the Sun, and … fuck. Fuck the police forever.. And I say that as a very white, very middle-class suburban guy.
posted by scruss at 2:10 PM on June 3 [4 favorites]

Barack Obama is live now, talking about these topics, informed in large part by his President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing - final report here.
posted by PhineasGage at 2:32 PM on June 3

Maybe it would help to make them wear blazers.

Also, abolish the routine use of police cars. Cops walking the beat and interacting with local people have a lot fewer violent incidents, and also are more aware of what's going on in the neighbourhood they're protecting than someone cruising by in a steel cage. Cops in cars are well on the way to being an external occupation force.
posted by acb at 2:43 PM on June 3 [10 favorites]

More from President, er, Former President Barack Obama:

"The Police Use of Force Project illustrates how policies often fail to include common-sense limits on police use of force, including:
1. Failing to require officers to de-escalate situations, where possible, through communication, maintaining distance, slowing things down, and otherwise eliminating the need to use force.
2. Prohibiting officers from using maneuvers that cut off oxygen or blood flow, including chokeholds or or carotid restraints, which often result in unnecessary death or serious injury.
3. Failing to require officers to intervene and stop excessive or unnecessary force used by other officers and report these incidents immediately to a supervisor.
4. Failing to restrict officers from shooting at moving vehicles, which is regarded as a particularly dangerous and ineffective tactic.
5. Failing to limit the types of force and/or weapons that can be used to respond to specific types of resistance and specific characteristics such as age, size, or disability.
6. Failing to require officers to exhaust all other reasonable means before resorting to deadly force.
7. Failing to require officers to give a verbal warning, when possible, before using serious force such as shooting, tasing, or pepper spraying someone.
8. Failing to require officers to report each time they use force or threaten to use force (e.g., pointing a gun at a person).
This list draws from materials created by the Police Use of Force Project and The Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights.
If you’re looking for additional ways to make change, head over to obama.org/anguish-and-action to learn more about police violence and antiracism, and ways to encourage reform, from organizations who have been working on these issues at the local and national level for years."

posted by PhineasGage at 4:21 PM on June 3 [3 favorites]

Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund: "How to Change Policing in America."
posted by PhineasGage at 6:33 PM on June 3 [2 favorites]

Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund: "How to Change Policing in America."

From that link:
It is critical that our city’s mayors be prepared to change their approach to police department funding in a way that prioritizes community funding support and a reimaged conception of public safety. For example, movements to drastically reduce police funding are at the core of a revised vision of public safety that prioritizes social services, youth development, mental health, re-entry support, and meaningful provisions for homeless individuals that strengthen community resources to proactively address underlying factors that can contribute to public safety concerns. Most public safety issues and community conflicts do not require the intervention of an armed officer. It’s time to reimagine how we allocate our public safety dollars.
This... is abolition!
posted by AceRock at 6:48 PM on June 3 [2 favorites]

Two-hundred thirty-six current and former staffers for Mayor de Blasio signed an open letter calling on him to live up to the promises of reform that initially drew them to work for him.

A few excerpts:

We saw the aggressive push for the construction of new borough-based jails, at a cost of $9 billion, despite activists’ cries to invest that money in jobs and alternatives to incarceration.
1. Reduce the NYPD operating budget by $1 billion in Fiscal Year 2021, and reallocate that money to essential social services, including housing support and rental relief, food assistance, and health care, in alignment with the demands of the NYC Budget Justice campaign.
4. Appoint an independent commission...including abolitionist organizers...

Life comes at you fast. I feel like all of these ideas were almost unspeakably controversial in New York just a few months ago but now they're...becoming somewhat commonplace?
posted by GalaxieFiveHundred at 7:59 PM on June 3 [4 favorites]

I'm leery of people who are focused on de-funding the police. Not because I think it won't or couldn't work, but because I think it's unlikely to happen soon given institutionalized power and our political and economic systems at the local level.

I expect reforms, if they happen in the near term, will look more like Camden, NJ. I think you can sell people on community policing, a strategy of deescalation and minimal use of force, and increased funding and policy changes to support schools, social services and economic recovery.

I saw a similar news story to clawsoon, one that showed the Camden police marching with protesters, which they were able to do because they had built trust with the community. And that's a great achievement, and the homicide rate has fallen, but Camden is still in the worst 95% of US cities for violent crime. Crime rates are falling nation wide, or at least they were; how much of Camden's improvements especially in homicide rates can be put on that, or even on better treatment preventing attempted murders from becoming homicides?

ultimately I think by the time the police are called it represents a failure: of communities, of mental health services, of educational systems, of addiction treatment, of reformation efforts for incarcerated individuals and recidivism prevention, and perhaps most importantly of economic possibilities and job opportunities. And a lot of that is because of racism... I'm not sure de-funding the police will really help with that.
posted by gryftir at 10:57 PM on June 3 [3 favorites]

I highly doubt that defunding the police is going to happen, but that's the stretch goal. Hopefully we can drag that Overton window a little more to the left.
posted by LizBoBiz at 2:09 AM on June 4 [5 favorites]

We don't want to curb our requests before anyone tells us "no".
posted by tofu_crouton at 6:13 AM on June 4 [10 favorites]

Indigenous woman killed by Edmundston police during wellness check

"Wellness check."

Meanwhile, one province over, police ignored repeated complaints about a white guy who was stockpiling firearms -- many of them illegally imported -- and making explicit threats to his neighbours and other people in the community. Various municipal police departments and the RCMP ignored this for ten years. Then, while his killing spree was underway, they didn't see fit to warn the communities in which it was taking place.

Asked to perform a wellness check on an Indigenous woman, however, and their response is to shoot her on the spot.

why do we have a cavalry regiment as our national police force?

Genocide, mainly.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 5:44 PM on June 4 [9 favorites]

Each squad car has a social worker and a bouncer. Social worker is in charge.
posted by condour75 at 6:31 PM on June 4 [1 favorite]

Chantel is from my town. Her family has requested that people don't share her pic right now as it's too hard to see but do want her name spoken. Chantel Moore.

Course the white person who put on some drive by protest talked to the cops first and wanted to write them thank you notes cause of course she wanted them to know it isn't our cops. Fortunately soon as she posted she talked to the RCMP she got dragged hard and no one showed up. Goddamn we white Canadians are just as racist as the states but can't see it.

Also can we focus the thread less on what Americans are saying. Distraction from looking at our own stuff.
posted by kanata at 6:35 AM on June 5 [10 favorites]

An ourobouros, but pigs instead of snakes...

Justin McElroy (the other Justin McElroy -- this one is a CBC municipal affairs reporter based in Vancouver):

The Vancouver Police Board has told city council it won't cut its budget by 1% as requested, and says one of the reasons is they will likely need to spend more money policing protests that are about the police

Some context on the VPD (and findings of an inquiry into their conduct that, like most of the reasonably good official inquiries in Canada, gather dust rather than being acted upon because it would require fundamentally changing how the police operate).
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:38 AM on June 6 [1 favorite]

Locally we have a group called Bear Clan. Which is sort of what I picture what you would replace a lot of police presence with. Though they will call the police under some circumstances, so I don't know if they're a 100% replacement, but their presence is not as intimidating as increased police presence. They're filled with people from the actual community. They also operate a food bank and have been delivering food during the pandemic, so they have some approach of actual helping and not approaching from a position of punishment.

They were also out and about at the protest yesterday, and I hear defused a couple incidents.
posted by RobotHero at 10:47 AM on June 6 [8 favorites]

Bernie Sanders is against abolishing the police:
Do I think we should not have police departments in America? No, I don’t. There’s no city in the world that does not have police departments. What you need are—I didn’t call for more money for police departments. I called for police departments that have well-educated, well-trained, well-paid professionals. And, too often around this country right now, you have police officers who take the job at very low payment, don’t have much education, don’t have much training—and I want to change that. I also called for the transformation of police departments into—understanding that many police departments and cops deal every day with issues of mental illness, deal with issues of addiction, and all kinds of issues which should be dealt with by mental-health professionals or others, and not just by police officers.

I think we want to redefine what police departments do, give them the support they need to make their jobs better defined. So I do believe that we need well-trained, well-educated, and well-paid professionals in police departments. Anyone who thinks that we should abolish all police departments in America, I don’t agree.
posted by octothorpe at 7:55 AM on June 9 [2 favorites]

I think the point of this that we need to reorient our priorities to addressing the problems that create crime in the fist place, as well as change how we think about and manage crime. As far as that goes, this kind of systemic change is absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, Defund the Police is a politically toxic name. Someone please think of a new name. It will be really sad if we don't use this opportunity to drive real change and instead just ban chokeholds and a bunch of other practices that never should have existed to begin with.
posted by xammerboy at 8:23 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]

The name doesn't fucking matter, the concept itself is going to be "politically toxic" no matter what branding you slap on it because cops serve the status quo and the status quo likes having violent enforcers on speed dial.

Abolishing the police is literally the only thing that will actually solve the problem; anything less just continues the cycle of violent repression. It doesn't matter if "reform" plays better in fucking Peoria, what matters is whether we still have agents of the state brutalising and murdering people. Reform isn't stopping them from doing that, so there's no point advocating for it even if it's more "acceptable" to white people who aren't on the receiving end of state violence.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:17 AM on June 9 [4 favorites]

Instead of arguing over terminology or absolutist positions that are emotionally satisfying but unworkable in the real world, let's look at an example where a fundamentally broken police force was dissolved and reconstituted, still as a police force where officers carry guns but with very different values and procedures and systems, Camden, NJ.
posted by PhineasGage at 10:45 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]

emotionally satisfying but unworkable

Again, the communities whoa re actually in the crosshairs of the fucking police are telling us that this is the only thing that will work. Maybe we should listen and fucking make the thing that they're telling us is the only thing that will work happen instead of this patronizing bullshit.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:06 AM on June 9 [6 favorites]

Abolishing the police is literally the only thing that will actually solve the problem

Without any thought as to how we will manage crime in the future? Is that workable? It sounds like the worst take idea conservatives are trying to convince people liberals want.
posted by xammerboy at 11:20 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]

I think there are huge opportunities for rethinking crime. Put those resources into community centers, jobs programs, etc. It costs 80 grand a year to incarcerate someone. Think of the huge amount of money we could save if we invested in not having to send people to prison. My hope would be these protests could lead to real change like that, but if the message is just abolish police I don't think politically it will go anywhere.
posted by xammerboy at 11:34 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]

Cops don't even manage crime in the present.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:39 AM on June 9

The problem seems to be some people are using "Abolish the police" as shorthand for "Abolish the police AS THEY EXIST TODAY". I don't think anyone believes we won't need some sort of small peacekeeping force with a limited license to practice violence.

We do need proposals for much smaller groups that can be trusted with a monopoly on violence. We also need to make sure this group can't blackmail society by going on strike when confronted with criminal behavior by its members, like the current police force does.
posted by benzenedream at 11:40 AM on June 9 [3 favorites]

Here are some actual facts about what people in different communities want. In a national survey conducted by YouGov and Yahoo after George Floyd was murdered by a police officer:

Question 28, beginning on page 54 of the detailed crosstabulated subgroup survey results.

"Here are some things that have been proposed to reduce deadly force encounters involving the police. Which of these do you favor or oppose?"

Q28A: Ban neck restraints -
67% of white respondents favor, 74% of black respondents favor.

Q28B: Implement an early warning system to identify problematic officers -
81% of white respondents favor, 88% of black respondents favor.

Q28C: Outfit all officers with body cameras -
91% of white respondents favor, 89% of black respondents favor.

Q28D: Train police on how to de-escalate conflicts and avoid using force -
91% of white respondents favor, 88% of black respondents favor.

Q28E: Cut funding for police departments -
12% of white respondents favor, 33% of black respondents favor.
posted by PhineasGage at 11:42 AM on June 9

And to not abuse the edit window, the last question was "Cut funding for police departments," not "Abolish police departments."
posted by PhineasGage at 11:46 AM on June 9

Bernie Sanders isn't Canadian so why do I care about his opinion? Like seriously, I'm getting irritated that apparently all that matters is what happens in America. Especially from someone who isn't Indigenous/Aboriginal/Black like Bernie.
posted by kanata at 12:06 PM on June 9 [7 favorites]

Without any thought as to how we will manage crime in the future?

You do realize that a lot of people have been thinking and writing about this for years, right? It's not like people just woke up last week and decided without any deeper consideration "hey, let's just abolish the police".
posted by Lexica at 12:07 PM on June 9 [9 favorites]

[Hi, yes, if you have questions about what people mean by abolishing the police, please go read -- we've had several threads with informative links on the subject recently. And please don't drag this thread over to discussing US police or politics; the link is about Canada so please let that be the focus. Thanks.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:27 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]

I called for police departments that have well-educated, well-trained, well-paid professionals.

Sanders forgot "obedient"
posted by mikelieman at 3:29 PM on June 9

Armoured police vehicle contract gets cancelled.
posted by sardonyx at 2:05 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]

Unbundle the Police

Which is an American publication, but maybe closer to where I think some of this will go.

I also read one story with someone doing a ride along.

One of the articles Lexica linked to says:
The Asayish work as traffic controllers, arrest criminals, protect victims of domestic violence, serve as security guards at main governing buildings and control the movement of people and goods from one canton to another. The HPC in contrast, are people trained in basic security who only patrol their own neighborhood.
I think if you have a group with the responsibility to arrest criminals, that is the police, by most people's definition. It doesn't make sense to me to say you're abolishing the police if you still have someone with that responsibility, which you probably will need. But I can see arrests should be more targeted, and that means dividing these different things they have police doing.

I have a friend who is a health inspector. She's enforcing the law, in this case food safety laws. But she would never personally arrest someone. Should we take a similar approach to traffic laws?

What I mean by arrests should be targeted, I mean that an investigation has decided so-and-so should be arrested, so they head out and find him and arrest him. Less stuff like the ride along story where they wander around running plates hoping to stumble across someone arrest-worthy.
posted by RobotHero at 12:29 PM on June 11 [3 favorites]

Police officer who fatally shot D'Andre Campbell not providing interview, notes to police watchdog:

The police officer who fatally shot a young Black man with schizophrenia at his family's Brampton, Ont., home in April has not agreed to an interview, nor turned over his notes to investigators, Ontario's police watchdog says.

The Special Investigations Unit, a civilian oversight body that investigates reports of deaths, serious injury or sexual assaults involving police, said in a news release Thursday that the officer involved in the shooting of D'Andre Campbell, whom it did not identify, "cannot be legally compelled to present themselves for an interview to the SIU," nor must they submit their notes.

Campbell, 26, was shot dead on April 6 after calling Peel Regional Police himself for help, his family recently told CBC News.

"It was D'Andre who called 911. He said he wanted to be taken to the hospital," his mother Yvonne Campbell told The Fifth Estate's Mark Kelley in a recent interview.

"He called out for help, and the system that was supposed to help him failed him," his sister Shenika Malcolm told CBC News in the days after his death. "There was no imminent threat and ... no de-escalation methods."

posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:32 PM on June 11 [3 favorites]

Pam Palmater: Canada Should Declassify, Deconstruct and Defund the RCMP

Making small, incremental reforms that are considered safe or non-controversial have not worked. The oft-cited recommendation for cultural awareness or cultural sensitivity training locates the problem in Indigenous culture versus racist police culture. Racial profiling, brutality, sexualized violence and killings are against the law–regardless of whether the RCMP understand our Mi’kmaw, Haida or Dene cultures or not. We are not talking about unconscious bias, unintended barriers or lack of knowledge about cultures. We are talking about conscious and intentional racial profiling, targeting, harassment, brutality, sexualized violence and killings of Indigenous peoples and Black people at grossly disproportionate rates than white people. Making excuses, like the popular myth of a few bad apples, is not only factually inaccurate, it is dangerous. Justice inquiries have long showed that racism in policing is widespread, violent and often lethal.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:53 AM on June 15 [3 favorites]

Nothing like the POC leader getting ejected from parliament for calling out racism illustrates better how much work we have to do. And oh boy don't read any comments ever.
posted by kanata at 5:30 AM on June 18 [7 favorites]

The problems with the RCMP won't be solved with sensitivity training or similar approaches. I have an aboriginal RCMP member in my family and they are full on "blue lives matter"/police are the only thing keeping the wolves at bay/law & order in posts to Facebook in response to the calls for action. They are mad and offended: "I am infuriated and ashamed of my so called friends in the media. You are fueling hate by only reporting one side of the story." These are people who extended families have been directly impacted by racism etc. The problems are structural and ingrained from day one.
posted by Mitheral at 1:59 PM on June 18 [3 favorites]

Jagmeet Singh (Twitter video)

Man, how is it that the perennially third place Federal NDP have once again elected a leader I could actually be excited about voting for.
posted by Mitheral at 2:05 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]

PM comments on Singh's ejection.
posted by Mitheral at 2:18 PM on June 18

A tape of Kelowna BC RCMP officer Browning a on wellness check showing Browning dragging Mona Wang down the fairly long hallway of her apartment building January 20th was released today. Wang is unconscious, hand cuffed and face down. When Wang appears to come to at entrance way the officer steps on her head to stop her moving and later lifts her up by her hair.

The officer is being sued for physical and emotional abuse and for additional assaults Wang claims happened out of view of the hallway cameras in the Wang's apartment.

"Officer's defence in B.C. lawsuit says she used no more force than 'was reasonable and necessary'"

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran saw the video for the first time Monday night and said he was "very disappointed."
Disappointed? Disappointed!?! $Deity on a rubber crutch you should be outraged.
RCMP spokesperson Staff Sgt. Janelle Shoihet said in an email the police force is "committed to reviewing the materials and the allegations as it relates to the police officer's actions to determine what steps need to be taken."
I haven't been able to find any further information on Browning's status so presumably she is not even on weak sauce administrative leave.
posted by Mitheral at 8:40 PM on June 23 [1 favorite]

Chantels family is still asking for the cop to be charged with murder. no one should die on wellness checks. the RCMP chuckled when someone asked them if it was racist what happened... sigh

watching the livestream from my cousin's wife (Chantel is her cousin) of the women in the band marching and mourning for her and all missing and murdered women was powerful. so if I've been bitchy at American mefites that is why.
posted by kanata at 9:05 AM on June 26 [2 favorites]

Another quote from Kelowna mayor Colin Basran from the CBC article about Mona Wang's assault by Browning: "Dealing with mental health and addiction issues is not easy, but what I saw in that video was incredibly disappointing."

Uh, I think it's pretty fucking easy NOT TO STEP ON SOMEONE'S HEAD or lift them up BY THE HAIR when you are supposed to be helping them with a mental health issue. Stop making excuses, Colin. There are no "buts." And I'm with Mitheral: "disappointing," really?? Try "What I saw in that video was horrifying and an example of police brutality against a person of colour." The. End.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 3:57 PM on June 26 [1 favorite]

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