The idea of adjusting police funding isn't radical. It's just a question of planning and looking forward. Any lunatic advocating for policing to be abolished shouldn't be taken seriously. Laws and their enforcement are pillars of modern society. The process has to be about redefining what policing is. Not an attack but a partnership. Things that need closer scrutiny, using dollars to buy military grade equipment. Trapping offenders in fees and obligations that overburden them at critical junctions in their rehabilitation. Allowing heavy handed policing without a reasoned sense of accountability.

In the long term, supporting citizens through services costs a fraction of what imprisonment does but, in the beginning, diverting money from policing into other services will be more expensive. It could be more than a decade before we see substantive returns. Officials have to use common sense when looking forward. What kind of results can we expect and how will we measure progress? A detailed plan is necessary.

If we follow the framework of the new Winfield sales tax any reform would be a failure. It amounts to a slush fund without voter oversight. A useful slush fund, if recent reporting is indicative of local budgets ("Ark City facing big budget shortfall" Shelman June 16, 2020), but still a slush fund. Without a plan on any details of the training center, and only vague allusions to required repairs or other uses for the funding, city officials adopted a wait and see approach that holds nobody accountable. It is saving city officials from making hard decisions but opens them up to a tendency of pursuing strategies or facilities that aren't sustainable. How we move forward has to be tempered with prudence and a plan. Not a blank check and good intentions.

We also shouldn't diminish the need to change symbolism but this is just a first step. If we don't address the subversive problems that encourage bias we'll be pulling a weed without the root. Ultimately policing reflects our societal views. Any change to policing has to be reflected in our society to deliver enduring change.

How do we act to create persistent change? On a national level steps are being taken to address structural problems within our system. They'll have to navigate the maze of union contracts and logistics of tracking officers. How excess military gear funnels into rural areas and tracking the dollars used to purchase it. After they finish, we will be able to asses their effectiveness, and if their reforms meet our standards. Now, here, before our resilience evaporates we can do other things to accelerate change. It could start with something as simple as a Big Brothers & Big Sisters donation or an op-ed to share your thoughts. Whatever the case stay engaged, get involved and keep going.

 

Chris Galliart

Winfield

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