The New York Times convened nine activists, academics, law enforcement officials and politicians to discuss public safety, racism and the different things people mean when they say “defund the police.” Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, now in private practice, noted that “people mean different things” when they use the term “defunding,” not all of which he saw as viable options. “I think abolishing is not practical. Because there’s, you know, there’s violence that needs to be addressed. You need law enforcement. But I think maybe refunding, you’re focusing on where the money is spent and how it’s spent,”
Detroit Police Chief James Craig supported that contention, arguing that a tailored approach that meets the needs of each community is the most appropriate. “There tends to be the sweeping one-size-fits-all ‘defund the police.’ Where’s that coming from? As a municipal police department, who do we work for? We work for the community. What does that community want? I can tell you very candidly, here in Detroit, people, especially in the most disadvantaged neighborhoods in our city, do not — absolutely do not — want defunding of the police,” he said. Kansas City mayor Quinton Lucas said, “I think what we’re trying to say is there was a lot more stuff we should be doing, and recognizing that there are finite dollars in a budget. Brandon Dasent, who survived the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Fl., suggested that the term “reallocation of funds” might be less daunting than “defunding.” Generous police budgets that buy tanks and assault rifles don’t save lives, he said. “So all of this gear, all this equipment, all this funding, for pretty much nothing,” he said.