Following the police murder of George Floyd, there have been calls to “Abolish, Defund, and Reform” the police. Elected officials around the country have called for 50% reductions in the police budgets that account for much of local government spending. At the same time, there is little agreement on the meaning of what could or should be defunded or what can be reformed; in many cases, the very language of this movement has impeded the necessary public debate about the appropriate role of police and policing in our society.
Dan Lindheim, professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy, asked the panelists to address the meaning of abolishment and defunding the police in relation to the disproportionate levels of crime and violence that affect low-income communities of color.
Philadelphia chief of police, Danielle Outlaw, cited a Philadelphia poll showing majority support for reform rather than abolishment or the reduction of department size.
Nikki Fortunato Bas, President of the Oakland City Council and co-chair of Oakland’s Reimagining Police Taskforce, discussed an effective public safety system that includes alternative responses to non-violent calls and linked the policing crisis to the federal government’s dismantling of the social safety net.
As a leading national expert on police bias and police reform, Jack Glaser, professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy, discussed the clear racial bias that lies within the policing system especially with “proactive policing.”
The views of experienced police, elected officials and faculty experts at UC Berkeley sheds light on these critical, and timely, issues.