Here’s what Phoenix activists mean by ‘defund the police’
PHOENIX — When protesters have made calls to defund the Phoenix Police Department, it’s not necessarily about getting rid of the police department or gutting all of its money, according to supporters.
“When we say ‘defund the police,’ we’re talking about a reallocation of funding from the police department to go into black and brown communities,” said Viridiana Hernandez, executive director of the advocacy group Poder in Action.
Hernandez said it’s about shifting money away from police and into other areas of need, including access to healthy food, affordable housing, good-paying jobs and mental health services.
“We believe that those are actually the things that truly make us safe and that when we invest in those, then we won’t need police,” Hernandez said. “And so defunding of police is about shifting our priorities and investing in people.”
Her group has been calling on the Phoenix City Council to cut some of the funding for police and instead invest in other areas that would benefit the community.
The council has not considered doing that. But it did vote on Monday to invest $3 million in funding for a police oversight board, which Hernandez called “a first step.”
“We’re glad that councilmembers listened to community demands,” she said, adding that more needs to be done to support healthy and safe communities.