The most popular terms to change the structure of the police department are to reform, defund, dismantle, and abolish. This is what they mean.
Words matter. Dismantling and abolition may be necessary in the future, but to demand them today is damaging if a crime is underway and if a trained officer may be the best person to respond. Defunding carries a negative perception analogous to elimination. With a presidential election around the corner, it’s crucial that words and language are simple for everyone to understand.
Reform is a universal term. We have individual opinions what it should entail but we agree that reformation is about change.
In advance of President Trump’s executive order for police forces to change their ways, top cops around the country agree that change is needed.
San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott: “We understand that it’s necessary for law enforcement to listen to African American communities and embrace courageous changes to address disparate policing practices, and we recognize it will take sacrifice on our part to fulfill the promise of reform.”
Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best: “We need to reimagine and re-figure out, if you will, how we’re going to move forward as a country and as an organization to make things better for everybody. It’s incredibly difficult, but with every challenge, there’s opportunity. There’s opportunity to move forward and bring people together and get positive change. I absolutely believe that.”
Boise Police Chief Ryan Lee: “We have to recognize the driving factors of crime in the United States really are poverty and addiction, and it’s appropriate for us to partner with organizations and groups to help address those issues.”
Boston Police Commissioner William Gross: “A child doesn’t want to go to school? You call the Boston Police. A child’s on the bus being unruly? You call the Boston Police. There’s an emotionally disturbed person in a home? You call the Boston Police. How many hats do you want us to wear? I think that responsibility should be spread out.”