Hard to tell that whether the issues of the coronavirus pandemic, and the changes that protestors are asking for are making things in the USA better or worse. I truly have no idea what that answer is.
I read that the city council in Minneapolis are considering disbanding the police department and in other major cities in the United States they considering defunding the police. Some “politician” said that 911 calls and asking for police assistance is for people of privilege, and I would argue the contrary. I have used 911 countless of times in my life, when I was a child and even a younger adult, and I was taking food stamps and needing help from government assistance programs. I was in no way close to be affluent or high society, or a place of privilege because of my race or economic status, or place where I lived. And I needed police to help me with people who were violent. Sure, I also had my share of bad policing, and I’d get upset for about a week, but then I’d regain my faith in humanity.
I guess the point I am trying to make is, I needed the police at times in my life. When my house was being shot at by nazi and kkk groups, the police was there to give us comfort and some helped picked up the broken glass and in the rebuilding process. When my parents were receiving death threats, police were there, doing there job. Of course we ran into police misconduct, such as getting a ticket for $900.00 for… ummm… well… we really have no idea… Or police mistaking someone in my family for the wrong person. Or being unlawfully detained as well. That happens, again, 90 percent of the people in the world are good and well 10 percent has issues, regardless of your skin color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or occupation.
Is disbanding the police department a solution? Does that mean that city will have ZERO law enforcement? I’m not too sure what is going on? Defunding the police? Does that money go… well where? I dunno, initially I found all this very terrifying… I mean I immediately thought I need to get a gun now, since the police won’t be there to protect me from people who want to kill me. Defunding the police, or disbanding the police sounds like the beginning of one of those post apocalyptic Hollywood movies. But instead of being fearful, I’d like to dig deep into this idea of how we solve the issue of police brutality and whether the protesters are demanding too much and whether our leaders are just giving people what they want rather than what they need…
So, I got a college buddy that lives in Camden, New Jersey. About 3 years ago, when I first came to Ward Ave. Presbyterian Church, I knew at the time he was living in Philadelphia. I called him, and he told me that he is now living in Camden, New Jersey. Which made me worry because I know Camden was notorious for being a crime ridden city. I asked, “What are you doing over there?!” His responses shocked me the most, “I moved here because it’s safer…” WHHHAAATTT???? He said that Camden disbanded the police 3 years before he moved there and the crime rate dropped. It’s not perfectly safe, but he said it felt safer than a bigger city.
So…. I thought I’d call him again… just too see if Camden still is doing well and also what does a “police” free city look like. To my shock, Camden has not gotten any worse. Also, too my shock… umm.. there are police in Camden. Soooo… what happened? Apparently, Camden disbanded the current police, then put different regulations and brought in a new police department… some of the police officers were able to come back to work. So…. Did everything work? Maybe…. Policing got better, communities feel safer, and more importantly, police are working actively with communities and schools. Just so you know, I have to protect is anonymity because he is a current officer in Camden, New Jersey. and also, he was a police officer in Philly and asked to be transferred to Camden, for his family’s safety. According to his testimony, violent crime is the lowest they have seen in a long time, but they did see an uptick on homicides compared to last year, but wasn’t anything like 2010, poverty is still an issue, but they want to work with community leaders and civic management companies to see if they can find a solution.
But I asked him, would defunding and disbanding the police work in bigger cities, like Minnesota or New York, any other metropolitan area. He kinda laughed at this, because one, he doesn’t know too much about the Minneapolis police department. Camden had to disband it’s police department in 2013 because of corruption issues, not necessarily because of police brutality. Also, he said it depends on how they disband the police and bring in a new type of policing. Also Camden has far less people than Minneapolis, so who know how people are going to react?
Every city is different, every situation is unique, and police departments have diverse situations they have to encounter. What is the answer for people demanding police defunding or police dismantling? Nobody really knows. As protests rage on, and more stories of police misconduct happening over media being highlighted in snippets of pictures or videos or even through twitter tweets… more and more people will want to express a high demand of action without thinking about possible consequences.
So…. CAN WE PLEASE JUST GET THE STORIES OF GOOD STUFF COMING FROM POLICE AND PROTESTORS WORKING TOGETHER TO SHOW THIS COUNTRY THEY ARE AMERICANS REGARDLESS OF BEING A COP OR PROTESTER! PLEASE GIVE US SOMETHING GOOD TO THINK ABOUT!!!
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Hey this is Rev. Brian Choi's random thought throughout my week. Most of this stuff, will probably be about family, church, fishing, music, movies, food, whatever I think of, hopefully it will have some sort of theological reflection (maybe).