Would abolishing police create safety and justice in the world?

Both Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton and Detroit Justice Center attorney Erin Keith believe communities need an array of investments, including money for healthcare services, response to trauma, and a higher child tax credit return.

The summer of 2020 was marked by protests following the deaths of George Floyd and Breanna Taylor.  It was then that many people began to wonder what role police play in our society, with some going as far as pushing for the defunding of law enforcement.

Organizers of anti-policing movements note that many criminal investigations go unsolved and that it’s up to each of us — friends, family members, block clubs, and broader community ties — to prevent violence in the first place and intervene when necessary. New texts, including “Becoming Abolitionists” are trying to reimagine what safety and justice could look like in the U.S.

“I think the real kicker is that you don’t have to hate police or think they’re all bad to want more for our city, and to want to divest from carceral structures to invest in communities,” she says.


Listen: Why some believe policing needs to change — or go away completely.

 


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Erin Keith is managing policy counsel for The Detroit Justice Center. She says that the origins of policing lie in slavery. She says money going to policing could go to childcare, housing, and giving people more money to stabilize their lives.

“I think the real kicker is that you don’t have to hate police or think they’re all bad to want more for our city, and to want to divest from carceral structures to invest in communities,” says Keith.

 Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton is in his fourth term leading the department. Clayton says he’s okay living in a world where we don’t need police, but that working toward that place is a process. The sheriff believes that problems with policing reflect broader issues in society.

“I think this is a police issue but it’s also a societal issue,” says Clayton. “How have we defined public safety from a societal perspective? It’s a societal culture.”

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