I am a supporter of law enforcement and I used to be a police officer, but I do know things need to change. If you ask any police officer, they will tell you the same thing. I have worked in, and around, law enforcement for 25+ years, and I know we need to bring common sense changes to the system. In my career, I have also served the homeless, addiction impacted, and mental health-affected population of Oregon. I have helped it from both sides and understand that we need to do better. Police do not need to be “defunded” they need to be correctly trained and supported. That will take funding. Did you know, on average, police only get 4 hours of defensive tactics training a year? They get little to no training in de-escalation techniques or on-going trauma-informed care training. Why? Budget.
I am a firm believer in community policing, police officers getting to know the neighborhoods and communities they work in, and the citizens of those areas getting to know the officers. What would it be like if police officers knew the residents and business owners of their assigned areas? What if people saw police as people and police understood the problems of the people in the areas they serve? When officers and community members get to know each other, the community understands police are there to protect them. In standard police procedures zoning and scheduling changes on a constant basis. We need to stop that and keep officers in districts longer to get to know the areas and people in them.
I understand what the premise of “defund the police” was supposed to be in theory. Police are not the answer to everything, they will tell you that as well! “Defund the police” was to take money from the police department put it toward other programs to help the community the police serve and take the police out of those roles. We need to do that in a big way, I have a plan! But we cannot do that in a way that makes our communities less safe as to reduce the primary role of police which is law enforcement.
We will correctly train the police with better initial training in the police academy, more on-going training around de-escalation with a trauma-informed model. We will get them more training on use of force and keep them training in real world situations, so they are better prepared for what happens in the streets. But most of all, we need to make sure they understand the scope of their job, and that they are supported to do their job.