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What does 'defund the police' mean for policing changes

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Posted at 12:38 PM, Jun 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-09 20:46:33-04

(KGTV) — As demonstrations around the country call for police reforms, demands for cities to "defund the police" have increased.

But what does that really mean? Is it a reduction in funding or eliminating departments? So far, the calls have included both.

"There are some advocates who would like to see a police-free environment in a lot of cities," Scripps National Political Editor Joe St. George tells 10News' Jon Horn. "Now for some people that is a terrifying thought. Police help prevent theft, they prevent violent crime. So it is something that is certainly going to be a hotly contested political issue."

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St. George added that both Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden have both said they do not support calls to "defund the police," so the issue may fall on local cities.

Policy proposals are still in the early stages. Supporters of the movement say they'd like to see less patrolling and reaction to major needs. But critics say patrolling helps prevent crimes from happening.

If budget reductions are in the mix, depending on the amount, departments can either expect layoffs or a shift in priorities, according to St. George.

"If you're talking millions of dollars worth of cuts to a police department, there will have to be layoffs. If you're talking a couple hundred thousand, perhaps they would shift priorities from one program to another," St. George says.

In San Diego, locals voiced their calls for decreasing the police department's budget for the 2021 fiscal year. City leaders voted Monday to approve the budget, which will increase SDPD's budget to $566 million.

In contrast, Minneapolis' City Council has voiced intentions to disband the local department, calling their current department unreformable. City leaders have not announced plans for a future public safety agency.

RELATED: Advocates calling to defund or disband police departments

Budget changes could lead to different ways of serving the community, according to Isaac Bryan, Executive Director of the UCLA Black Policy Project. Cities may focus more on preventative efforts like education and services for low-income communities.

"I definitely think there are partnerships to be made and there's opportunity to be had, but that reimagining really first comes with having the resources to dream," said Bryan. "Right now, we don't have that because over half of our budgets, the discretionary funds go to law enforcement and policing."

One thing that is likely, whether it be budget or policy changes, is that no two cities can expect to see the same response.

"Every city is going to be different. San Diego is going to respond differently than Los Angeles and California cities will respond differently than cities in Minnesota," St. George says.