Recent protests in Alaska and around the nation have taken rhetorical aim at local police departments. In some cases, protesters are calling for mayors and governors to defund entire police forces and use the savings to hire social workers, mental health providers and fund homeless outreaches.
This demand, fueled by the tragic death of George Floyd last month, came up at a recent rally in downtown Anchorage, while Mayor Ethan Berkowitz was addressing a large crowd of protesters on June 5. He was repeatedly interrupted with demands that the Anchorage Police Department be disbanded.
The idea is that police officers are irredeemably racist and beyond reform. A recent article by Harvard Law graduate and D.C. attorney Hans Bader debunks this idea with a well-researched, facts-based article on racism within police departments. Removing police officers, Bader argues, is unwarranted and will ultimately harm black communities disproportionately.
While police training and policies can always be improved, the idea that major U.S. cities could operate without well-equipped police is incredibly naïve. Check out Bader’s article here.