The defund movement suffers from a branding problem. There are a lot of people for whom ‘defund the police’ seems to mean ‘decent into anarchy’. Few are looking to cede all property rights, eliminate personal property, eliminate speed limits. To me, defunding the police means funding a new government organization staffed with social workers, psychologists, and mediators to handle the massive number of calls that don’t involve arrest. Possibly moving toward the UK idea of generally unarmed officials with a small group of armed police to respond to situations where armed police are actually needed. Personally, I’d have three groups — social-workers for mental heath issues / inter-personal relationship problems, non-armed responders (the trespassing call we put in a few weeks ago certainly didn’t need an armed guy responding — just someone with legal authority to remove the trespasser), and armed responders for dangerous situations. But that idea is hardly encompassed in the word “defund”.
I’ve been thinking reorganize might be a better phrase — reorganize the police. There’s a shared responsibility for public safety, and it would be beneficial that the two groups not be working at odds. I see St Petersburg “reimagining” the police to include a group of more social-work oriented police. I like that turn of phrase. It doesn’t address the awful historic roots of policing … but there are a lot of institutions in this country (government and business) with horrible pasts. I think an organization’s roots are far more acceptable if the current entity wasn’t exploitative, abusive, or colonialistic. United Fruit became Chiquita — their exploitations today are the problem! “Re-imagine” suggests there was something wrong with the original conceptualization that needs to be changed. By keeping the non-police responders under the same organization, the budget it retained (maybe even grown — move a lot of current funding over to social services, add a little more). And there’s no “but the anarchy” strawman.
I thought the wildflower “gardens” in highway medians were a brilliant idea — aesthetically pleasing and low maintenance. Hadn’t even considered them as a food source for animals.