Defund the Police is an emerging movement to take funds from the police and place them in education or health services and let communities take care of their safety. I don’t think we should do away with peace-keeping bodies entirely; I still think we need a nation-wide organization of people dedicated to community safety.
However, I think we are at an inflection point in the country’s history. Now is the time to radically rethink what peace-keeping can look like, from the tools, incentives, and mindsets that this organization would have. Now is the time we can seriously ask the question: What if we cut America’s police force in half, or three-quarters, and re-trained many of these people to be a part of a new organization called the Community Corps?
A mash-up between health counselors, therapists, and the AmeriCorps, this new organization would have in their ranks people with mental health training to deal with community members who use drugs, and anger management techniques to work with people who have disputes.
Keep a small contingent of police for bank robberies. But let the vast majority of 911 calls be handled by community advocates whose goal is to keep people out of jail. Who are paid to proactively work with communities to get communities access to social services and provide extra support for students in ways that do not entail putting them in jail.
This could be our future if we defund the police and create a new organization called the Community Corps.
The tools police have at their disposal have become increasingly militarized since the 1960s. The tools people have at their disposal shape how they address problems. When police have armored police vehicles, sniper rifles, and semi-automatic guns at their disposal, communities become “bad guys” that need to be taken down. Some departments are even required to use military-grade weapons within a year of receiving them. To build positive relationships with communities, it begins with rolling back access to military grade weapons for police.
The Community Corps would take this idea even further. Corps members would not have any sort of gun on them and a mandate to never use lethal force such as chokeholds…