Should We "Defund the Police"
Bernier, John Allen
Wise, Andrew S
The civil unrest of 2020 culminated in numerous American cities pledging to “defund the police.” At the behest of civil rights activists, these cities pledged to reallocate funding from municipal police departments into community outreach programs. This will be done with the hope of reducing both crime and incidents of police use of force. Many critics believe the policy will only result in higher rates of crime. I collected and observed ten years of panel data across twenty American cities to determine which policy pathway should be followed. I analyzed the breakdown of budgets for police and outreach spending and used multiple fixed effects models to see how they correlate with crime statistics and recorded incidents of fatal police shootings. I concluded that there are marginal benefits to funding police departments over outreach as a means to reduce crime. However, funding outreach over police departments has a greater effect on reducing officer involved shootings. Defunding the police therefore creates only tradeoffs that are not easily measured and compared.
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