Defunding the Police: A Critical Review of the Literature

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Introduction

The growing concerns regarding the problem of police violence, especially towards minorities, were triggered by a series of murders over the past years. This threat to the wellbeing of corresponding population groups was well studied by scholars who attempted to examine the matter from different perspectives. Although this issue is one of those which should be timely addressed, there is still no unity in society in terms of the feasibility of defunding the police to decrease the numbers of such cases. This paper brings together and discusses the main ideas of supporters and opponents on the subject alongside the neutral stance as evidence that this measure will not be beneficial to the criminal justice system in the long run.

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Overview of the Subject and Objectives of the Review

The importance of deciding whether defunding the police is a suitable method for overcoming challenges is in the lack of proper regulations. At present, there are no precedents, whereas scholars claim the high annual incidence rates of fatalities caused by officers remain intact since 2013 (Schwartz & Jahn, 2020). In addition, researchers add that the recent murders of Black people significantly worsen the situation, and drastic measures should be applied (Waldron, 2021). Therefore, this review aims to systemize the evidence in this respect to demonstrate the possible outcome of defunding police departments throughout the country and its feasibility.

Other Reviews and Gaps in the Research

This subject was previously examined by other scholars, but their focus was limited to the consequences of funding these institutions for people’s health. Thus, for example, Abi Deivanayagam et al. (2021) write about global protests against police violence, claiming that the challenge is in organizational structure but do not expand this thought. Instead, they focus on community disempowerment and health risks (Abi Deivanayagam et al., 2021). Other researchers state that improper conduct of police officers correlates with mental health issues and review the studies solely in this area (DeVylder et al., 2020). Hence, the revealed gap, which is the absence of research on practical solutions, is to be covered within the scope of the paper.

Literature: Summary, Methodology, and Contributions

Article Summary Key Terms Methodology Contributions
Braga, A. A., Sousa, W. H., Coldren, J. R., & Rodriguez, D. (2018). The effects of body-worn cameras on police activity and police-citizen encounters. This article presents evidence of improvements in the outcomes of police-citizen encounters when the former uses BWCs. This method improves the perceptions of people regarding transparency of officers’ actions and their legitimacy. As a result, the numbers of complaints decrease, whereas the enforcement activity became more efficient. Thus, the scholars concluded on the need to elaborate this method to regulate the police’s actions instead of possible defunding. Body-worn cameras (BWCs), police-citizen encounters. Literature review, randomized controlled trial, analysis. This study indicates the presence of efficient methods to substitute defunding.
Goldstein, R., Sances, M. W., & You, H. Y. (2020). Exploitative revenues, law enforcement, and the quality of government service. This paper reflects on the use of the police by municipalities for collecting fees and fines instead of performing other duties. This orientation helps gather funds, which cannot be used by police departments. In conclusion, the authors state that protection from violence can be ensured by the refusal to exploit them for profits. In other words, the police should not be involved in bureaucracy. Revenue, fees, fines. County fixed effects, instrumental-variables strategy. This source demonstrates police departments’ inefficiencies, which can be modified as another alternative to defunding.
Jacobs, L. A., Kim, M. E., Whitfield, D. L., Gartner, R. E., Panichelli, M., Kattari, S. K., Downey, M. M., McQueen, S. S., & Mountz, S. E. (2021). Defund the police: Moving towards an anti-carceral social work. This paper reflects on the role of social work in the protests against police violence. From the authors’ perspective, this area can be best managed through social practices. Therefore, they conclude on the need to develop various community-based alternatives of involving police in preventing the causes of crimes. This method seems advantageous for addressing gender-based violence, child welfare, education, and health and mental health care. Social work, defund the police. Analysis of literature. This work develops methods improving the activity of police by combining their efforts with social workers.
Heaney, M. T. (2020). Protest at the center of American politics. This source provides extensive information on the causes of protests against police violence in the United States. As per the article, they are related to the recent murders of Black people over the past year. In conclusion, the author states that the essential barriers to reforming the police are not adequately addressed. Meanwhile, the political culture is mainly shaped by distorted information from social media. Black Lives Matter, defund the police. Analysis of mass media indicators. This article demonstrates the distorted perceptions concerning the support of defunding the police.
Schwartz, G. L., & Jahn, J. L. (2020). Mapping fatal police violence across US metropolitan areas: Overall rates and racial/ethnic inequities, 2013-2017. This paper statistically examines police violence as a public health problem in the United States. More specifically, it aims to present racial inequalities, overall rates, and causes of death as the main considerations for analyzing the challenge. In the end, the authors conclude on the need for a unique solution with regard to each of these factors in order to improve the situation in the country. Public health, police violence. Statistical analysis (inverse-variance-weighted multilevel models). This source is beneficial for depicting the trends regarding police violence.
Waldron, I. R. (2021). The wounds that do not heal: Black expendability and the traumatizing aftereffects of anti-Black police violence. This paper reflects on the reasons for the intention of citizens to defund or abolish the police. It particularly describes the traumas of the Black community and the corresponding public health crisis. In the end, the authors conclude that actions in the field of healthcare are insufficient for resolving the critical issue of police violence, and additional measures of a complex nature are required. Black people, discrimination, health services. Analysis of published studies and online commentaries. This paper is useful for highlighting the perceived importance of health in the matter as opposed to improvements in police departments.

Comparison of Different Views of the Authors

Supporters of Defunding the Police

Violence and Global Protests

One of the subjects confirming the necessity to defund the police is the presence of police violence, which is not addressed by any means. According to DeVylder et al. (2020), it is connected to the population’s health, both physical and mental. Different events, such as the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Elijah McClain, confirmed this stance, and researchers expanded on the causes and consequences of the neglect of the police’s actions. The former included various types of inequality, and the latter encompassed depression, anxiety, suicide attempts, and other problems (DeVylder et al., 2020). From this perspective, defunding the police seems a logical solution.

Human Rights and Mental Health

Another reason why defunding the police seems feasible is the violation of human rights, which also worsens mental health. This claim was confirmed by studies narrating about this threat. For example, Abi Deivanayagam et al. (2021) write that targeting minorities by the police is direct neglect of this nature. According to them, officers’ actions create social and economic conditions for these population groups’ discontent and increase the probability of criminalized behaviors (Abi Deivanayagam et al. 2021). Moreover, Waldron (2021) states that this circumstance determines the collective trauma of Black communities. Therefore, their willingness to promote the idea of defunding stems from the described situation.

Opponents of Defunding the Police

The Presence of Efficient Alternatives

Despite a strong rationale behind defunding the police, there is a wide variety of reasons prevailing over this necessity, and one of them is the presence of alternatives. Thus, researchers state that body-worn cameras (BWCs) are efficient for the civility of police-citizen encounters and citizen perceptions of police transparency and legitimacy (Braga et al., 2018). Even though there is no significant reduction in the amounts of complaints, a thorough examination of technological innovation for eliminating the threat is required (Braga et al., 2018). These data mean that there is sufficient evidence of the effectiveness of other methods as opposed to defunding, which can be comparatively cost-saving.

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Possibility of Reorganizing Funds

Another factor eliminating violence while saving the institutions is the possibility of their reorganization. It relates to both the duties of officers and the police departments’ structure. The former was reflected by scholars confirming the inappropriate orientation of employees on collecting fines they cannot benefit from instead of protecting people (Goldstein et al., 2020). In turn, the latter was proved by researchers examining the flow of funds to conclude on the necessity to reallocate taxes (Heaney, 2020). These outcomes indicate the likely improvements if the police have more time for protecting citizens, and their money is used not for the government’s profit but safety.

Neutral Stance

Correlation with Social Movements

Alongside positive and negative attitudes, there are neutral data concerning related circumstances, one of which is social movements. They positively correlate with violence since the latter triggers the former manifestations. As per the study, the link between them is in the escalation of the conflicts between officers and society after murders caused by the police (Schwartz & Jahn, 2020). It proves the requirement to pay attention to social work as a component of population safety (Jacobs et al., 2021). This consideration also corresponds to the need to continue funding the police to avoid complications as they can be handled in collaboration with other organizations.

Inaccurate Media Representation

Another condition to consider when demonstrating the feasibility of police funding is the distorted media representation of the population’s response. Thus, even though the situations showing the unfavorable conditions for minorities regarding safety are numerous, scholars claim that judging them based on online posts leads to bias. For example, the beginning of the movement known as “defund the police” started with the information published on the Internet, whereas the survey’s results proved that most protesters do not support it (DeVylder et al., 2020). Moreover, such occasions lead to the so-called decentralization of media (Heaney, 2020). They result in ill-informed decisions of citizens concerning participation in movements.

Selection of Works and Similarities and Differences Between Them

The selection of the studies was based on their suitability for the purposes of research. Thus, they efficiently reflect on negative, positive, and neutral aspects of the matter, allowing to conclude on the necessity to continue funding the police departments while modifying their operations. These sources have both similarities and differences facilitating their classification. The former refers to the discussion of the same topics, such as health and societal response, alongside the appropriate methodologies contributing to their findings’ precision. The latter includes the varying orientation on different consequences of police violence and the involvement of corresponding organizations concerning this provision. Their combination is advantageous for further consideration of the idea to defund the police and its harm to citizens.

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Conclusion

To summarize, the literature review showed that arguments for keeping police funding for the effectiveness of the criminal justice system are stronger than the ones of their opponents. In other words, the consequences of violence for health can be better addressed through a series of reforms rather than the above solution. The introduction of technological advances and reallocation of funds are more beneficial for the outcomes for police’s activity, whereas the substitution of these institutions is cost-inefficient and harmful for people’s wellbeing.

References

Abi Deivanayagam, T., Lasoye, S., Smith, J., & Selvarajah, S. (2021). Policing is a threat to public health and human rights. BMJ Global Health, 6(2), e004582. Web.

Braga, A. A., Sousa, W. H., Coldren, J. R., & Rodriguez, D. (2018). The effects of body-worn cameras on police activity and police-citizen encounters. The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 108(3), 511-538.

DeVylder, J., Fedina, L., & Link, B. (2020). Impact of police violence on mental health: a theoretical framework. American Journal of Public Health, 110(11), 1704-1710. Web.

Goldstein, R., Sances, M. W., & You, H. Y. (2020). Exploitative revenues, law enforcement, and the quality of government service. Urban Affairs Review, 56(1), 5-31. Web.

Jacobs, L. A., Kim, M. E., Whitfield, D. L., Gartner, R. E., Panichelli, M., Kattari, S. K., Downey, M. M., McQueen, S. S., & Mountz, S. E. (2021). Defund the police: Moving towards an anti-carceral social work. Journal of Progressive Human Services, 32(1), 37-62. Web.

Heaney, M. T. (2020). Protest at the center of American politics. Journal of International Affairs, 73(2), 195-208. Web.

Schwartz, G. L., & Jahn, J. L. (2020). Mapping fatal police violence across US metropolitan areas: Overall rates and racial/ethnic inequities, 2013-2017. PloS One, 15(6), e0229686. Web.

Waldron, I. R. (2021). The wounds that do not heal: Black expendability and the traumatizing aftereffects of anti-Black police violence. Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion: An International Journal, 40(1). Web.

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DemoEssays. (2022, August 25). Defunding the Police: A Critical Review of the Literature. Retrieved from https://demoessays.com/defunding-the-police-a-critical-review-of-the-literature/

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DemoEssays. (2022, August 25). Defunding the Police: A Critical Review of the Literature. https://demoessays.com/defunding-the-police-a-critical-review-of-the-literature/

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"Defunding the Police: A Critical Review of the Literature." DemoEssays, 25 Aug. 2022, demoessays.com/defunding-the-police-a-critical-review-of-the-literature/.

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DemoEssays. (2022) 'Defunding the Police: A Critical Review of the Literature'. 25 August.

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DemoEssays. 2022. "Defunding the Police: A Critical Review of the Literature." August 25, 2022. https://demoessays.com/defunding-the-police-a-critical-review-of-the-literature/.

1. DemoEssays. "Defunding the Police: A Critical Review of the Literature." August 25, 2022. https://demoessays.com/defunding-the-police-a-critical-review-of-the-literature/.


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DemoEssays. "Defunding the Police: A Critical Review of the Literature." August 25, 2022. https://demoessays.com/defunding-the-police-a-critical-review-of-the-literature/.