Few politicians admit any longer to wanting to defund the police, just two years after that exact sentiment gained shocking traction on the American scene. Yet in 2020, activists marched with signs demanding it, politicians bandied those activists’ slogans and cities actually began doing it, cutting law enforcement budgets.
Milwaukee was among them. Here, researcher Sean Kennedy measures the results in reduced police protection for Milwaukee’s beleaguered citizens.
Not only has the city reduced the number of authorized police positions, it has fewer officers to fill them, leading to higher vacancy rates. What is more, this inability to fill what remaining positions the city is funding includes leadership ranks: The Milwaukee Police Department is facing a damaging loss of institutional knowledge and practical skills, a loss that could worsen policing just when Milwaukee needs its force to perform at its peak.
Politicians who wanted to defund the police have backpedaled as crime has surged. But if they want to do more than walk away from their mess, they need to begin to repair the institution that serves as the frontline defense of Milwaukeeans’ right to live in peace. Here is how.