It has been nearly two years since Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd. At the time, Floyd’s death would set off massive protests across the country as politicians and political pundits played lip service to Black Lives Matter and others, as they offered up their hollow support. Illustrating the extremely hollow nature of their “support” is the fact that despite all the appeals to emotion, the toothless “reform” bills, and incessant gaslighting — absolutely nothing has changed.
As the fourth month of 2022 begins, American cops are keeping to their deadly numbers like clockwork. One quarter of the year is over and cops have killed more than 250 people — right on track with previous years. This number is set to increase by one, on average, every 8 hours, every single day, of every single week, of every single month, of every single year.
The Biden administration promised change but since he’s been in office, it’s been more of the same, and, in fact, has gotten worse. Last year’s budget (FY 2021) for the hiring program, approved under Trump, was set at $156.5 million. Biden more than doubled the funding for it in FY 2022.
The “defund the police” movement has since morphed into a “fund the police” more movement, spearheaded by the very people who promised to do the opposite. Biden just released a “fund the police” budget proposal in March for $30bn more in law enforcement and crime prevention efforts, including funding to put “more police officers on the beat.”
America spends more on policing than every other country in the world spends on their entire militaries, except for China. But if we remove China from the picture, US law enforcement would be the largest military in the world — and it’s deployed right here in the land of the free.
Despite all this spending, crime in many areas is on the rise, corruption in police is rampant, and police in America are still killing unarmed and even innocent people. And what do the politicians do to fix it? Increase spending.
Since 2018, cops in America have killed 4,761 citizens. And politicians want to give them more money, as if that is the solution.
“To invest more into a system that we all know is broken is really a slap in the face to everyone who marched in summer 2020,” said Chris Harris, director of policy at the Austin Justice Coalition in Texas. “It reflects just a real lack of solutions to the problems that we face. It’s just more of the same – even if it’s exactly the thing that we know continues to hurt and kill people.”
These shocking numbers highlight a major problem when it comes to how police are policing. For starters, police have proven their incompetence in dealing with mental health issues. Since 2015 alone, police in America have over a thousand people during a mental health crisis. Many of these folks were never accused of a crime prior to police arriving on the scene.
This inability to resolve mental health issues without using deadly force is the impetus behind programs like the Support Team Assistance Response (STAR) program in Denver. You know, actual solutions that don’t require billions more in tax money.
As TFTP has pointed out, even cops who voluntarily attend Crisis Intervention Training (CIT), have shown that they are quick to the trigger when dealing with the mentally ill.
The list of unarmed and often completely innocent mentally ill people killed by police is immense. TFTP archives are full of tragic stories in which police were called to help someone in a crisis and end up murdering them. People are killed even when they aren’t in a crisis and simply act differently like Elijah McClain, who was on his way home from buying groceries and was murdered by police because he was an introvert and wore a ski mask.
This is why some municipalities have begun removing cops from the situation entirely.
On June 1, 2020, Denver began the Support Team Assistance Response (STAR) program, which sends a mental health professional and a paramedic to some 911 calls instead of cops. When we first reported on the program in October 2020, their results were fantastic. Now, it seems that departments who continue the old way are doing a disservice to the mentally ill.
According to their latest data, STAR has responded to more than 2,200 calls to 911 in which police would have normally been sent out. The STAR team — armed only with experience and compassion — has never once called police to back them up and no one was ever arrested.
Since we originally reported on STAR last year, they have gotten a fleet of vehicles and are expanding their services.
They have settled every single call without killing someone, beating them, ruining their lives, or using violence. Imagine that.
Another type of encounter which turns deadly all too often is the traffic stop.
While most everyone in America commits these same traffic infractions designed for revenue collection instead of safety, most of the people targeted by police for these crimes are the poor and minorities. Often times, officers treat these stops as gateways to fish for drug activity or other victimless crimes. While ending the drug war would have a much more profound effect, some municipalities have kicked around the idea of removing traffic stops from the mission of police officers.
Traffic stops in the land of the free, are a means of bolstering the prison industrial complex by extracting revenue from those who can pay and incarcerating others who cannot.
For those too poor to pay their tickets, routine traffic stops end up in repeated imprisonment due to mounting fines. Cities across the country are running a de facto debtors’ prison this way.
When cops aren’t routinely extorting and locking people up for petty traffic offenses, they are killing them.
This is why moves like we reported on in October, are important. As we reported, lawmakers in Philadelphia have passed legislation banning cops from making minor traffic stops. The law went into effect in February of this year.
By a 14-2 majority vote, the city council approved the Driving Equality measure which they say will deter and reduce disparate, unequal police practices in how minority motorists are stopped by police for minor offenses like broken tail lights and expired inspection stickers.
According to the Councilmember Isaiah Thomas, who worked with the Defenders Association, and the city Law Department to draft the bill, it is designed to “significantly reduce car stops by police for minor infractions that advocates believe discriminate disproportionately against Black and Brown motorists.”
In reality, police don’t stop crimes. They simply show up after a crime has been committed and attempt to solve it — and they are not that good at this aspect either.
The research shows that 70% of robberies, 66% of rapes, 47% of aggravated assaults, and 38% of murders go unsolved each year.
The majority of the “crimes” police stop in the act, are for victimless infractions like jay walking, seatbelt violations, license plate lights, window tint, and other laws designed for the generation of revenue. It is extremely rare that a cop will stop an assault, robbery, murder or rape.
Some cities across the country have started to figure out that extorting, kidnapping, caging, or killing people over crimes which have no victim, only serves to widen the gap between police and the citizens as well as increase recidivism. Experts have been pointing this out for years, yet the political class’s only answer is more money.
Imagine offering addiction support and mental health counseling instead of arresting people for drugs or their mental illness. It would be far cheaper. Imagine what that would do to the crime rates, the violent police interactions, and the relationship between the police and the policed.
Imagine not preying on the poor through traffic laws and victimless crimes. It would be far cheaper to help someone change a tail light than to incarcerate them for weeks for not being able to pay the fine for it.
Imagine cycling cops on and off duty to help them cope with the rampant PTSD from which so many cops suffer. In the military, soldiers are sent on tours of duty because constant deployment is far too stressful yet we send cops into situations every day in which they see dead bodies and humanity’s worst. And we expect them to just keep on going like everything is fine. This has to stop.
Imagine the immediate cessation of the war on drugs and using the money spent on kicking in doors, kidnapping, caging, and killing people, for community resources to teach people about addiction and responsible substance use.
None of these solutions require an increase in funding, yet all of them would have a profound effect. If we want cops to stop killing so many people, these are the things we need to start talking about. Until we do, every 8 hours, of every single day, of every single week, of every single month, of every single year — we can expect more of the same.