Very Serious People are coming out with the column headline: Defunding the police is crazy!
So perhaps we should talk first about funding the police. What are we funding?
Let’s take Minneapolis, the unexpected center of our disorder. I don’t have a breakdown of how much the Minneapolis department spent on tear gas and the latest military equipment. But we do have stats on how much the city spent on civil suit claims for police abuse: from 2003-2019 the cost was 25 million dollars.
I thought about this timeline and this figure after reading Pagan Kennedy’samazing and wrenching article about the invention and history of the rape kit.
In 2019, the Minneapolis police announced a non-fun fact: in the police storage unit they had discovered around 1500 untested rape kits, spanning thirty years. Definitely a bad moment for the chief, who had to explain how he had previously reported that there were around 200 untested kits.
Kennedy reports that there are huge cultural problems with cops and rape investigations. One of those problems is the persistent refusal of the city to shoulder the cost of the testing of rape kits, which comes to about 1500 dollars per kit. Astonishingly, this cost is often borne by third parties – nonprofit feminist groups making money from cake sales and the like.
So we have at least one metric for what police funding is about, and its priorities. Evidently, testing those kits would have cost 2,250,00 dollars. Apparently, the city’s thinking was: we can either check these kits and catch rapists, or for ten times that amount, we can pay for abusive cops.
They chose the latter path. And that made all the difference.
Law and order in the U.S. is not only racist and oppressive, but it doesn’t even keep law and order. It stores the evidence in the storage facility and goes out there and fights the real crime – falling asleep in a car at Wendy’s, passing, perhaps, a phony twenty dollar bill, selling cigs on the sidewalk without a license.
Perhaps policing in the U.S. isn’t very good? A question from a friend.