Since the death of George Floyd, activists and political leaders have redoubled their longstanding calls for a radical overhaul of American policing. Whether it's "defund," "abolish" or simply "reimagine," they seek a revolution in public safety: scale back cops' role, hand responsibility to unarmed civilians, and divert budgets to social welfare in order to target crime's "root causes."
Insofar as activists mean to reduce police harassment and violence, this sentiment is laudable. But, as I argue in a new report, it's also dangerously misguided; police are and ought to be the primary institution to ensure public safety. We need to stop pitting "alternatives" against them, and start thinking about how crime-reducing policies can complement police work instead.
Decades of evidence show that cops are an incredibly powerful tool for stopping crime. Research consistently finds that growing the police force, spending more on hiring and increasing the concentration of cops all reduce crime substantially.
Charles Fain Lehman is a fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal.
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