Can we really defund the police?

Can we really defund the police?

Police Quarterly

 A Nine-Agency Study of Police Response to Calls for Service

The protests following the killing of George Floyd in the summer of 2020 led to contentious discussions and debates in many cities about policing, with some calling to “defund the police.” However, this debate has generally proceeded without adequate research about either the scale or nature of issues that the police handle and the potential consequences of the proposed reform efforts. To respond to this research gap, we analyze millions of 911 calls for service across nine U.S. agencies. We report on the types of calls for service that the police handle, including how frequently different calls arise, how much time agencies spend on different categories of calls, and the outcomes of those calls. We find that the amount and types of incidents for which people call the police are voluminous, with the vast majority not obviously transferable to other organizations or government sectors without significant resource expenditures or adjustments. However, if the police retain these responsibilities, they also need to reconsider how they can more effectively address community concerns.

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Photo by Nick Page on Unsplash

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