In the wake of the tragic death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, the phrase “Defund the police” is frequently heard and it's gaining political traction across the country.

Nine members of the Minneapolis City Council announced Sunday they were prepared to “begin the process of dismantling the Minneapolis Police Department.”

Those calling for police to be defunded want money to instead go to social service programs to help address problems that lead to encounters with police, including poverty, domestic violence and mental health. More funding is needed for those issues, but that shouldn't come at the expense of law enforcement.  

Defunding or dismantling the police isn't the answer. We can't get rid of police departments. We need them. In a perfect world, everyone would get along. There would be no crime, no accidents, no murders. But that isn't reality.  The reality is, if there were no police to protect us, people would begin to arm themselves, and take law enforcement into their own hands.  It wouldn’t be long until streets in the U.S. would resemble the wild, wild West, or worse yet, the world as portrayed in the movie, “Mad Max.” 

Instead, significant change is needed to ensure public safety remains, and that police aren't abusing their authority.   Policy changes and proper training to de-escalate situations rather than use force are necessary to see some of the reform for which people are calling. Those officers who continually have complaints, including for excessive force, need to be taken off the streets.

But not all officers are bad. For every one bad law enforcement officer, there are 99 good ones. They're in the profession for the right reasons. They want to help people.

In Blair and Washington County, officers and deputies are hardworking individuals doing their job to protect residents and the communities they live in.  

Things can always be improved, and in some areas of the country, the changes may be extreme.   But defunding, dismantling or even dissolving the police isn't the answer. Call for reform and change, but keep the police in place.

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