Defunding the Police: The Path to Creating Safer Communities

April 2021

Following the murder of George Floyd by police in Minnesota on May 25, 2020, protests erupted throughout the country. Protests continued as other Black people were killed at the hands of excessive violence from police officers—Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, and far too many others. Protestors demanded justice for all Black people that have died, and continue to die, at the hands of police. In tandem with the calls for justice, protestors called for defunding the police. In this paper, I discuss the calls to defund the police and assess the public safety outcomes in communities most affected by police brutality—ultimately answering the question, is defunding the police a justifiable and sustainable option for creating safer communities? To do this, I review the impacts of criminalization on the Black community, past federal government defunding initiatives, and the municipal budget process. Then, I delve deeper into the general operating funds of three cities, Atlanta, GA, Philadelphia, PA, and Phoenix, AZ, by reviewing the total general fund expenditures and comparing the amount being spent on law enforcement and other selected expenditures.