I have a frequent criticism of the Right: While they often work to stop the reality-detached plans of the Left they often don’t follow that up with their own solutions.
Criminal justice reform is one area where the opposite has been true. In fact, Republicans and Libertarians have been on the frontlines of reform when it comes to our justice system for over a decade.
However, and this is a big “however,” they’ve typically left policing out of the conversation altogether. In fact, the conversation has more often than not revolved around “back the blue” slogans and a refusal to admit even the tiniest of problems within the system.
Fortunately, that’s changing and it’s changing rapidly. This is likely because conservatives have had their eyes opened by a few high profile events within policing in recent years. First, during the pandemic, many police worked with politicians to shut down people’s businesses, places of worship, and even arrest those who defied the lockdowns.
This should have shocked literally no one, policing is the enforcement arm of all bad government policies. But, for the first time, that enforcement arm targeted white, middle class, suburban communities in a way it previously had not.
Then there was the incident where the nation’s top police, the FBI and agents within the US Department of Justice, worked to label parents who protested lockdowns and ridiculous COVID-19 policies at school boards as “domestic terrorists.” These parents had justified grievances and were expressing them in the proper place. The persecution of them for letting their voices be heard, coupled with the consequential lies about their activities by state actors, was a direct assault on their free speech rights.
Lastly, the behavior of the Uvalde police in the wake of a mass shooting in Texas last month has scandalized the nation. That is, it scandalized everyone who has never been within ten feet of policing. Cops stood outside the school for over an hour as the gunman killed 19 students and two teachers. They handcuffed parents who tried to save their own children. They lied and blamed a teacher for leaving a door open. Then, they refused to cooperate in the investigation and now are reportedly harassing the parent they handcuffed.
The list could go on, but you get the picture.
That said, the left’s calls to fully defund the police—while frankly understandable—are not serious solutions. Even as a person who believes in an extremely, and I do mean extremely limited government, there are a few branches of government that are required to keep order in a society. Those would be a national defense, a legislative branch to make the laws, a judicial branch to uphold the laws, and a justice system to deal with those who violate the laws.
So what to do about policing? Because there is no question that the institution needs to be gutted and redone.
The first focal point must be the incentive structure. Currently, police are funded in an obviously bad way. While they receive some funding through state and local budgets they get a lot of their revenue from corrupt practices like civil asset forfeiture and also often questionable fees and fines. This obviously steers them towards spending their time harassing non-violent people and shaking down citizens for cash. Not only does that produce terrible working relationships within communities, it also means cops don’t spend their time actually working to prevent and solve real crimes.
Police do shockingly little on that front. The average homicide clearance rate is only 60% for the FBI and much lower for local police. For other violence crimes like rape, assault, and robbery it’s far lower.
1)The vast majority of crimes are never even reported.
2) Clearance only means they think they know who did it, not that they even actually make an arrest.
3) Even when they do make an arrest and get a conviction, they often get it wrong. We’ve discovered thousands of wrongful convictions in our system, often due to official misconduct in the case.
So the funding must change.
I have a lot more to say on this subject and will be continuing to introduce new proposals and ideas in the coming weeks. But there are many smart ways that we can reform policing and ensure this institution is actually there to protect and serve us all.