Calls to defund the police are getting more attention from city council members and state legislators

Written by on June 25, 2020

Calls to defund the police are getting more attention from city council members and state legislators

By Joseph Darius Jaafari, PA Post

June 25, 2020

Pennsylvania State Police deploy before the Eagles team parade and celebration Thursday Feb. 8, 2018 in center city Philadelphia. The Eagles defeated The New England Patriots in NFL Super Bowl 52. (AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma)

The call to defund the police is getting more attention – but it’s not a new idea. Almost a quarter of Pennsylvania’s municipalities have already done so in the past. They now rely on the State Police to enforce criminal codes. 

Critics say reliance on outside police departments, and a lack of community engagement with law enforcement, is what’s causing much of the civil unrest in poor communities and communities of color. 

A quarter of Pennsylvania’s municipalities have defunded their police departments in some way, even fully disbanding them. Governments often cite the need to tighten purse strings. But while those departments downsize, State Police pick up the slack.

As a result, Troopers who cover multiple districts are being treated as local law enforcement. But police reformers and legislators — and even the state police themselves — say they aren’t suited to do that. 

In a recent state Senate hearing on the criminal justice system, the President and CEO of the Alliance for Police Accountability said that police are called into responding to civil issues too often, instead of social workers or health practitioners. She noted that too many social problems were laid at the doorsteps of the police.

And with talks of defunding law enforcement, communities that rely on state police are at an interesting crossroads: either they fund a police force that will respond to their own issues more sensitively, or push for slashing funds that could result in even less coverage than they already have.  


Current track