Justin Haskins: If you believe Black lives matter, support more funding for police — not less

Should we defund hospitals because some doctors have killed patients through medical malpractice?

The murder of George Floyd — a Black man in handcuffs not resisting arrest — by a White Minneapolis police officer on Memorial Day was a horrific crime that understandably outraged Americans of every race. But tragically, demands by some to defund or disband police departments around the nation will only lead to increased crime and the loss of more innocent lives, including Black lives.

Already, serious crime is skyrocketing in a number of cities, as criminals take advantage of attacks on police to step up their activity.

From June 29 to July 5, there were 85 shooting incidents and 27 murders in Chicago alone, with most occurring on the city’s predominantly African American South Side. Over the 28-day period ending July 5, there were 388 shootings in Chicago citywide — an increase of 76 percent compared to the same period in 2019 —  and 95 murders.


Over the July Fourth holiday weekend, 44 people were shot in New York City and at least eight were killed.

In Atlanta, there were 31 confirmed shooting victims and five deaths over the holiday weekend, including an 8-year-old girl named Secoreia Turner. She was killed while riding in a car with her mother by a “group of armed individuals who had blocked the entrance” to a parking lot, police said.

Many of the victims of these and other shootings are Black. Every day, police officers in communities across America willingly risk their lives to prevent such crimes, without regard to the race or ethnicity of crime victims.

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When the number of police on the streets is reduced — a consequence of defunding or the even more absurd abolition of police departments — it’s inevitable that more Black and other lives will be lost as a result of increased crime.

The national Black Lives Matter organization has led the way in demanding a “national defunding of police.”

The Movement for Black Lives, another well-funded national BLM group, is demanding “a shift from massive spending on police that don’t keep us safe to a massive investment in a shared vision of community safety that actually works.”

Although many of the national BLM organizations have refused to lay out a timeline for defunding police departments, some local groups have been more aggressive.

In Philadelphia, BLM representative YahNé Ndgo has said that activists want a complete abolition of police in the city over just a five-year period.

BLM isn’t alone in its calls for defunding police. Far-left politicians have also joined the effort, including self-described socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., who complained in late June that action by New York City to cut its police budget by $1 billion — one-sixth of the total — didn’t go nearly far enough.

“Defunding police means defunding police,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a statement. “It does not mean budget tricks or funny math. It does not mean moving school police officers from the NYPD budget to the Department of Education’s budget so the exact same police remain in schools.”

But radical Black Lives Matter groups — many of which have explicitly endorsed socialism — and socialist politicians like AOC are doing the exact opposite of what needs to be done to protect Black lives. If they really believe Black lives matter, they would be seeking increased funding to put more police on the street.

Can police training and policies be improved to reduce deaths at the hands of police? Yes. Can police do a better job removing officers who resort to violence without justification from their ranks? Of course.

Why don’t the Black lives lost to gangs and other criminals matter as much as the Black lives lost to the relatively rare cases of unjustified killings by police?

Reforming and improving the police is a laudable goal. But defunding and dismantling police departments will only make things worse and result in the deaths of more crime victims.

Should we defund schools because some teachers have raped and assaulted their students? Should we defund hospitals because some doctors have killed patients through medical malpractice? Should we shut down churches because there are documented cases of pedophile priests and other clergy members attacking children?

Of course not. Defunding police makes no more sense.

Why don’t the Black lives lost to gangs and other criminals matter as much as the Black lives lost to the relatively rare cases of unjustified killings by police?

And how do Black Lives Matter activists plan to keep communities safe with smaller police forces when many of these communities aren’t safe now?

BLM organizers have suggested that police pose such an incredible danger to Black families that cities would be better off without them.

But nearly four times more people were killed by criminals in one week (June 29 to July 5) in Chicago alone than the number of unarmed Black people who have been shot and killed by police thus far in 2020 in the entire United States – about seven.

All Americans should stand firmly against police brutality, racism and abuses, and support reasonable reforms like ending no-knock raids and requiring police to wear body cameras. Such reforms have been welcomed by many policymakers across the political spectrum.

And of course, police who commit crimes should be treated like any other criminals —      arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

But sending out unarmed social workers and psychologists to deal with rapidly unfolding and potentially dangerous situations won’t work. Armed robbers, rapists, violent gangs and other gunmen sometimes need to be confronted by armed police officers.

In many cases, the deterrent effect or presence of police is enough to prevent violence. But sometimes force becomes unavoidably necessary to save the lives of innocent crime victims. Imagine if your own child were in school and a gunman broke in and started shooting, killing children and teachers. Would you want a social worker or armed officers to respond? 

Calls to defund police departments so that activists can expand failing welfare programs and hire an army of social workers aren’t just foolish. Such calls are incredibly dangerous and disrespectful to the families who have lost loved ones at the hands of criminals.

Black Lives Matter leaders have argued that crime rates would go down if poverty were reduced. They’re right. Reduced poverty rates are unquestionably associated with lower crime rates, and where there is less crime there is less need for police. But reduced crime is not the same thing as zero crime.

However, it would be insane to slash police budgets to the bone prior to poverty rates falling, and even more insane to think — as Black Lives Matters claims — that simply increasing funding for welfare programs would magically reduce poverty.


Since the start of President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty” more than $20 trillion has been spent on a long list of welfare programs, but poverty rates have hardly improved at all.

Similarly, over the past two decades poverty rates among African Americans have only decreased modestly, despite trillions in government spending on poverty programs. And much of the gains occurred only after the Trump administration and the Republican-led Congress reduced regulations and cut taxes in 2017 and 2018.

Black communities have been suffering for far too long with higher-than-average poverty and crime rates, but neither problem will be fixed by abolishing the only departments in many of these communities working to keep families safe — the police.


Of course Black lives matter. The best thing we can do to show that is to focus on alleviating poverty through proven reforms like enhancing school choice, investing in job training, reforming welfare programs and helping police departments become more effective while also holding them accountable when they violate Americans’ rights.

But none of these policies would move our country closer to socialism, so the Black Lives Matter leadership team — which is composed of numerous “trained Marxists” — isn’t interested. Instead, BLM leaders argue it would be better to tear down as many existing American institutions as possible, the police first among them, regardless of the consequences to Black families.