Black Lives Matter and other activists are calling on cities across the nation to #DefundthePolice. So what would they have us replace law enforcement with? Many are calling for diverting resources from police to social-service systems, including mental-health care.
The problem is that these arguments studiously ignore the dysfunctional state of the systems we have. Indeed, it’s because of chronic policy failure in areas such as mental health that the police and other public-safety agencies so often find themselves dealing with problems that shouldn’t be their responsibility.
Consider the case of Rashid Brimmage, a 31-year-old homeless New Yorker with a serious mental illness, who has been arrested a whopping 103 times over the last 15 years.
This month, he allegedly shoved to the ground a 92-year-old woman near the corner of Third Avenue and East 16th Street in Manhattan. Surveillance video of the incident shows her striking her head against a fire hydrant and Brimmage proceeding along without even breaking his stride. The alleged assault was random and completely unprovoked.
Would more spending on mental health have kept Brimmage out of jail and his victim from having been put “in a state where [she’s] fearful to walk the streets alone,” as The Post has reported?
Probably not. We know this, because we tried it, via Mayor Bill de Blasio’s high-profile ThriveNYC initiative and other equally expensive and misbegotten programs in the Big Apple.
Stephen Eide is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and contributing editor of City Journal.
Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images