The police custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis has been, for many, a tipping point. Protesters and activists alike say Floyd’s death is just the latest in a string of similar incidents across America that have taken place for generations, and it is that palpable anger that has led to a sharp rise in calls for city councils to de-fund their police departments from coast-to-coast. As activists continue their laser-focus on the issue, some Texas-based criminal justice experts say it could be a recipe for disaster.
“I don’t think the public will stand for it,” says Dr. Harold Williams with the Texas State University School of Criminal Justice. “You’re still going to have policing going on, you’re just giving up control of it. What problem have you solved?”
Williams says a nation full of de-funded cops could very easily lead to widespread unrest, which doesn’t make anyone any safer.
“I think it would be an unmitigated disaster,” says Williams. “I think that it would invite chaos, absolute chaos.”
Williams’ sentiment is echoed by Dr. Alex Del Carmen, a criminal justice expert and law enforcement trainer at Tarleton State University. He believes the de-funding movement lacks the necessary foresight to be successful considering that no viable alternatives have yet been put forth.
“Law enforcement has a function, law enforcement has a role, and it must remain in place, albeit with some reforms,” says Del Carmen.
Del Carmen feels the the public outrage over police brutality is justifiable, but if not addressed properly, could prove to be a powder keg.
“We have to be very careful that the anger that people have toward this incident does not turn into something that’s going to create further chaos in our towns and cities across the United States,” Del Carmen says.
Williams also believes some reforms are needed, adding that police officers have a duty to listen to the public and to evolve. To that end, however, he’s not confident that enough progress will be made to satisfy either side until mutual dialogue is both fostered and encouraged between police officers and protesters.