Since George Floyd’s murder by a policeman May 25 on a Minneapolis street there has been a continuing, irrational hue-and-cry to defund police.
Certainly many police departments in the United States need to be reformed, retrained and depopulated of crooked cops, but they already have been defunded. And that’s a significant part of the problem.
We should wonder how cities and counties can hire anyone to enforce the law, given the working conditions, poor pay and abuse that they sometimes have to endure.
Oh, surely city records show salary raises over the years and other increases. What they don’t show is the defunding that occurs when legislators pile new, unfunded duties on police.
A major example is social work that underfunded social services can’t handle.
Who responds to a 911 call of spousal, elder or child abuse?
A uniform cop carrying a radio, loaded pistol and body camera. Given today’s social environment in which political correctness is demanded, perhaps I should explain that in my lexicon, “cop” is a short, gender neutral, respectful term for police.
Decades ago I had an office in the Salt Lake City “cop shop” where I monitored radios for city and county police, fire department and state police radio traffic on the night shift for The Deseret News.
Every cop I’ve ever known — and that’s a lot of cops, including five in my family if we include a customs agent and a prison guard — have been honest, upright and friendly.
But one can’t watch much news without knowing that there are bad cops out there, and a lot of frustrated, stressed-out cops who don’t appreciate having people curse them out, spit in their face, throw things at them and worse.
Every cop who stops a vehicle knows there is a real possibility that he or she could end up dead. Understandably they might be a bit nervous and apprehensive.
So, if we are stopped for whatever reason, it is our responsibility to make the experience as pleasant as possible for the officer.
I’ve had very few tickets in 67 years of driving; but my last ticket – several years ago – was for speeding on Highway 26, coming home to Pullman. I was going – well, too darned fast, which is unusual for me – and Trooper Blood and I had a very friendly conversation.
It began with my thanking him for stopping me.
When I saw “the lights” in my rear-view mirror I looked at the speedometer and was both surprised and embarrassed to see how fast I was going.
With hidden defunding for decades we are seeing fewer and fewer cops patrolling our streets and highways. One of the consequences is increased speeding, and especially drivers passing in no-passing zones and running red lights.
In many cities police are burdened by investigating noninjury accidents for insurance companies. Their involvement should be limited to directing traffic and clearing the scene if necessary.
Many other examples could be cited.
The time saved can be much better used for legitimate police work.
The current defund movement will only exacerbate police work. We should be increasing police funding and reallocating departmental funding to better uses, such as training, programs to help police cope with emotional stresses, etc.
Terence L. Day is a retired Washington State faculty member and a Pullman resident since 1972. He encourages email to firstname.lastname@example.org.