Unburden the Police

The Democratic slogan on crime should be “Unburden the police,” specifically: fund community-based violence interruption programs; fund first-response mental health programs; eliminate traffic stops. With those things off their plates cops can focus on crime-solving/case clearance.

We shouldn’t minimize the reasons communities have for hating and fearing police practices, but we also can’t minimize the reasons those same communities have for wanting protection from crime. So reform the practices: spend less person-power on routine interference with citizens (whether pedestrian stop & frisk or traffic stop & harass) and more on solving crimes (which will be easier when people don’t suffer constant adversarial or humiliating or even fatal interactions with cops). And turn violence interruption over to community groups trained in its successful practice (like those that provided Chicago with a fairly peaceful Memorial Day weekend) and mental health crises over to professionals trained to handle those encounters.

And then use the right rhetoric! “Unburden the police” means exactly the same thing as “defund the police” but sounds pro- instead of anti-cop, anti- instead of pro-crime. “Fight crime smarter not harder.” “Build policing back better.”

Let’s stop leading with our chins on an issue where we have the right answers and our “Blue Lives Matter” opponents have nothing to offer.


Author: Kelly Kleiman

Kelly Kleiman is a freelance writer on the arts, feminism, travel and social justice. Her reportage and essays have appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and Christian Science Monitor, among other dailies; in magazines, including In These Times and Dance; in the alternative press; on the BBC; and on Chicago Public Radio, where she’s one of the “Dueling Critics” and a contributor to the Onstage Backstage theater blog. She is also a consultant to charities and editor and publisher of The Nonprofiteer, a blog about charity, philanthropy and nonprofit management. She holds undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Chicago.

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