Defund the police! Support the police! If you’ve been listening lately, you’ve likely heard both rallying cries. In fact, our analysis of recent Google search data showed a tie between the two terms in Ohio.
As a result, we asked two local law enforcement leaders some hard questions about why so many people are angry with law enforcement. We also wanted solutions. In our special three-part series, we examine the problem, the solution, and what the media can do to help.
Defund The Police
Let’s start by breaking down what exactly ‘defund the police‘ means. For some, it really means just getting rid of the idea of a police force completely. For most, it means limiting the use of a police force to investigate violent crimes like murder, sexual assault, and armed robberies. They see a separate, perhaps unarmed, agency dealing with petty theft, traffic issues, and drug crimes. Some support eliminating criminal penalties for drug abuse completely.
Many feel that law enforcement is over-funded at the expense of social services. They say this attitude, combined with systemic racism in law enforcement, is what led to the death of George Floyd. Floyd died as a result of injuries sustained during an arrest in Minneapolis back on May 25.
That incident happened just days before local resident Kevin Bailey was critically injured in custody at the Scioto County Jail and later died in a Columbus hospital.
Scioto County Daily News asked unfiltered questions of two local leaders:
- Captain Debra Brewer, the Interim Chief of the Portsmouth Police Department
- David Throroughman, the current head of Shawnee State University’s Department of Public Safety and the presumptive next Scioto County Sheriff.
We were pleased and surprised to find both willing talk about hot-button topics. What did they have to say? Keep reading.
Why Do People Want To Defund The Police?
The first question seemed simple, ‘Why have so many people want police departments defunded?’ The answers aren’t so simple. Here’s what the two leaders in charge of making future local police policies have to say.
Captain Debra Brewer
The head of the Portsmouth Police Department blamed bad cops for hurting the reputations of good officers. “The push to defund the police is due to the fact that after the Floyd incident, all officers are viewed as racist, power-hungry individuals who do whatever they want.”
Brewer said she understands the anger but wanted the public to know, “The majority of officers do their job above and beyond what is called for but that doesn’t bring media attention. We do not ask for media attention. It’s our job, it’s what we do. It’s who we are.”
When protesters gathered outside the Portsmouth Police Department on May 31, Captain Brewer came out and spoke to the crowd. Brewer and her officers knelt in solidarity with marchers and she promised to root out any “bad apples” in her department.
David Thoroughman said it is a basic human instinct to fight injustice. “This movement is occurring because when we see injustice, we want to do what we can to ensure that this does not occur anymore.”
Thoroughman said it’s unfortunate that some want to use a tragedy to further personal agendas. “The media and some in politics polarize terrible events in attempts to achieve power and money. It is not difficult to make it appear as though the horrible crime in Minneapolis was more commonplace. Sadly, this is because it occurred more often in our not-too-distant past.”
Both leaders said they understand the anger, but how can we fix the problem?
In part two of our special series, we talk solutions.