2020: A Year in Review
As we wind down the year, LEAP is spotlighting key justice and drug policy issues that made an impact in 2020. Our law enforcement experts address these topics head-on, creating positive change to the justice system. Throughout our year-end funding campaign, you’ll hear directly from our speakers on why these issues matter to them personally, and why they should matter to everyone invested in changing the system — and the world — for the better.
The LEAP Staff
Today, one of our most recognizable speakers takes on one of the biggest issues of the year: MAJOR NEILL FRANKLIN (RET.) on “DEFUND THE POLICE”
We need to face the fact that our communities are — and have long been — overpoliced and undersupported. Our police are being burdened with tasks they haven’t been prepared for, and which would be better handled by other service providers or community stakeholders. Incremental change is not good enough anymore. We need to start over. The new way forward for our justice system must begin with meeting communities where we are, and all of us getting on the same page with envisioning where we want to be. We need to have frank, and likely uncomfortable, conversations that include all voices within our communities.
Who doesn’t want stronger, more peaceful communities? People need to feel like they can trust the police and trust the justice system. Right now, an unsettling number of our fellow Americans feel targeted and threatened by the police and the justice system. And police trying to reform the broken system from within feel like the people they serve often view them as the enemy. “Defund the Police” is meant to convey an urgent need for change, not the empty promises and inaction we’ve seen up to this point. But what does it really mean?
For many of us, “defund the police” actually means making more balanced investments in our communities. It means restructuring police budgets and redistributing responsibilities that should not fall under the realm of policing, but within social services. We need to spark a movement that is significant, thorough, and — most importantly — strategic. We need good police to lead the way toward policies that prioritize public safety and the implementation of ethical, effective best practices.
What good does a “law and order” approach do if enforcing the law as we have been leads to chaos in our neighborhoods? Fear in communities of color? Displacement of people struggling with poverty, addiction, or mental health crises? Mass retirement of police dedicated to racial justice and social equality, who we need to lead the next generation?
We need to recalibrate the role of policing in society.
Major Neill Franklin (Ret.) discusses “Defund the Police” with CNN’s Don Lemon
Unless and until we acknowledge the problematic structure that brought us to this point, we won’t be able to change the system. And this is a system desperately in need of tangible change, especially for those who are most impacted by the current state of policing and the violence it perpetuates.
Cutting funding for vital community programs in favor of militaristic police programs is why we’re in this mess. We need to rethink the necessity of incarceration, engage in restorative and transformative justice whenever possible, and level the system to a place of true justice for all. Let’s build up programs that support community wellbeing instead of fostering a system focused on and enmeshed in punishment. Let’s reallocate overinflated police budgets and redistribute funding to practical community services. Let’s fund schools, community centers, libraries, affordable housing options. Moving in this direction will make our communities stronger, our police more effective at addressing serious crime, and our people feel safer and more secure. Police should not have unchecked power. We are a part of our communities, protectors of our communities, but we are not dictators or soldiers at war. We should stop thinking of our role as literal “enforcers.” We are protectors, public servants, and, ideally, peace officers.
When I hear “Defund the Police,” I hear a call for change. I, like many of you, don’t want or expect to live in a lawless society. But as a community member and a 34-year police veteran, I don’t want things to continue the way they have been. I want us to reimagine policing, reinvest in communities, and find a better way forward. For all of us.”
To support LEAP’s work on TRANSFORMING POLICING in 2021, donate today.