No, Defunding the Police Doesn’t Mean Abolishing It.

The world faced a traumatic slap of reality this year with the outrage that was the realization of systemic racism and inequality within the United States after we were rocked by the murder of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. While African-Americans have always been discriminated against, these events have finally pushed the Black Lives Matter movement into the mainstream media for months now. Thus, the phrase, ‘Defund the police,’ became more and more popular.

Statista graphic of large US cities policing budget. (

The phrase ‘defund the police’ faced the tragic fate that many main slogans and taglines for big movements face, with the saying's almost radical nature. When people say ‘defund the police,’ they don't mean strip a police department of all of its funding. The phrase was coined because people realized that big cities like New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago all have outrageous numbers that are their police budgets, with, as you can see in the graphic here, Statista reports $5.61 billion for the NYPD this year alone. Although, CBCNY reports that the NYPD total budget comes out to closer to $11 billion with pensions and fringe benefits.

Why does New York City have such a big police budget? Well, CBCNY reports that 88 percent of this budget is to pay officers and the other 12 percent is for any other costs, including operating costs and vehicle maintenance. But, they also report that the average salary for a police officer is over $90,000, with some captains earning $190,000. The average pay for a uniformed employee is $113,000. This is where, in my eyes, the problem lies. While yes, officers work very hard to protect the cities that they work for, this pay compared to other public employees pay in NYC is unacceptable.

According to the Department of Education, the average pay for a teacher in NYC is anywhere from $57,000 to $65,000 based on education level and experience. The average base pay for a drug rehabilitation specialist in the NYC area according to Glassdoor is $45,712.

Let these numbers sink in. A teacher in the city gets paid nearly half the average salary that officers in the city do. While it does make up a whopping 28 percent of the entire NYC budget, the NYC Department of Education and schools in the city are both notoriously underfunded. What some would say is the most important thing in a young child’s life is not being provided adequately here. And this can be seen all across the country, teachers are paid too little, and education budgets are too small, with schools having to cut extracurriculars and different sports.

While it is unclear to find how much NYC supports rehabilitation services and other public services, there is a clear underlying issue here. The city values its police officers over the people and organizations who are going to affect the real change to help get crime rates down.

Better education support makes it so that schools no longer have to cut funding, and then children can start being included in more extracurriculars, after-school programs, and ways of inducing a positive learning environment as well as keeping them off of the streets at a younger age.

Better rehabilitation services make it so that suffering addicts can be provided with the sufficient help they need without having to pay, in some cases, at least $6,000 for a 30-day inpatient rehab program.

The bottom line? Better social services to stop crimes from happening in the first place reduces the need for policing in general. And whether we’re talking about NYC or Chicago or Los Angeles, the story is the same. Policing is given much more than they actually need to adequately do their job, only because politicians and the government, in general, do not want to accept the fact that they could fix the problems from the source. All these major crime issues could be lowered with more spending and just attention and care in general put towards more public services and healthcare.

So, ‘Defund the Police’ doesn’t mean abolish them and remove law enforcement. It means, to rethink the amount that the police truly need from the budget and put the excess and more towards better outreach and services to lower crime rates from the source.

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