Letters to the Editor: Defunding police isn't about money; it's about dismantling a racist system

·3 min read
Protesters gathered outside San Diego City Hall to draw 140 chalk outline, representing the 140,000 low-income residents they say are at risk of eviction if their budget demands aren't listened to on June 8, 2020 in San Diego, California. The action came just hours before the City Council was considering Mayor Kevin Faulconer's proposed budget. The advocates asked that some San Diego Police Department funding be diverted to a rental assistance program.
Protesters support efforts to redirect public money from the San Diego Police Department on June 8. (Sam Hodgson / San Diego Union-Tribune)

To the editor: Defunding the Los Angeles Police Department is not just about budgets. It's about accountability. ("Defund the LAPD? At this pace, it would take 20 years to hit Black Lives Matter's goal," Aug. 11)

Social justice activists calling to slash law enforcement budgets want to see a radical shift in the way police treat people of color. All too often, district attorneys shield police officers who are sworn to protect and to serve, even as the death toll from police abuse rises.

Qualified immunity protects state and local law enforcement officers from monetary liability for unconstitutional actions if the officer acted in "an objectively reasonable" manner.

District attorneys declining to prosecute officers, police departments declining to fire bad officers, jurors taking the word of officers over Black and Latino witnesses and qualified immunity are all failures of a system that has protected law enforcement from being held accountable in criminal cases and civil cases.

We must dismantle the institutionalized racism that allows police to violate our civil rights.

Luis Carrillo, South Pasadena

The writer is a civil rights attorney.

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To the editor: Who came up with this phrase, "defund the police"? There's no question that police forces have problems with systemic racism, but "defund" sounds too much like "eliminate," and that's plain stupid.

Put yourself in the shoes of a Chicago cop. You go out every day, reminding yourself that you became a cop to do good. You know the city is chock full of guns, some pointed at you, and everyone is watching your every move.

Now think about being that cop for a day, a week, a year. How would you be?

Rather than defund, we need to redirect. Just as important, we need to provide emotional support for our police officers. Departments should require officers to see a police psychologist regularly — not for any specific reason, but just to talk to someone who may be able to help them cope and learn new skills.

We need to help our officers become better cops who can deescalate situations, are less likely to make bad judgments and can learn alternatives to exerting force when appropriate.

Buz Wolf, Studio City

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To the editor: I'm a lifelong liberal Democrat, but it troubles me deeply to see the Los Angeles Times give front-page credibility to Black Lives Matter's push to defund the police.

This is not a Democratic Party policy, nor is it a goal of presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden. Every time I read about a Black Lives Matter spokesperson supporting this lunacy, all I can think of is that "Ghostbusters" song: "Who ya gonna call?"

Alan Segal, San Diego

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To the editor: When all the payouts have been made from the lawsuits filed resulting from police misconduct during the Black Lives Matter protests, it will be the LAPD that has defunded the city of Los Angeles.

Joseph Gius, Los Angeles