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The anger and frustration caused by George Floyd’s death is justified and understandable. However, the so-called “police defund movement” is a leap into the absurd. A force of some kind will always control our streets. The question is what kind of force will it be ? Will it be well-regulated, sworn and committed to the fair and impartial enforcement of the law, or something else ?
Today, well organized, heavily armed and very violent drug cartels ply their illegal trade on our city streets; while street gangs stand poised to carve out their turf, imposing their will on the innocent, through violence and terror. Terrorists of all sorts lie in wait for the next soft target to present itself. Domestic violence incidents inundate our police agencies daily with calls for protection? The neglected, whether young or old, need to be rescued from squalor and connected to vital social services. Enforcement actions must be taken to prevent carnage on our roadways. Common sense tells us, that dealing with these things is not a job for social workers, or community volunteers, but for police officers.
Our constitution states that government’s primary purpose is to protect the lives, property and liberty of citizens. When it fails, we have the right and duty to change it. The Minneapolis police, as government representatives, failed in their duty. The officers involved, the police chief and the mayor must be held accountable for George Floyd’s death. However, many are calling for the police, the only legally constituted agency for enforcing the law in the community, to be dismantled. To take such action without implementing a more competently designed alternative is unconscionable.
Ironically, the police have already been defunded in many places, a contributing factor to their poor performance. In Massachusetts, training budgets have been slashed. Actual hands on training has been replaced by online programs. Educational incentives have been reduced or eliminated, negatively impacting the quality of police recruits. Little investment has been made to improve supervision and leadership. Many political leaders calling for police defunding, were themselves responsible for the decisions that caused this degradation. Police reform is absolutely necessary, even to the point where receivership and forced restructuring may be necessary to redesign badly managed or corrupt departments. However, any proposal to outright eliminate the police is ill-conceived, reckless and very dangerous. Its motives should be seriously questioned
Dennis Galvin is a Westford resident.