How Defund the Police backfired

Great new Michael Shellenberger article.


The mere concept of Defund The Police sends a message that society has given up. Do the Police require more extensive training in order to effectively deal with often nightmarish scenarios - Yes absolutely, currently the level of training varies wildly from state to state. Standardised training methodology across the board would go a long way to minimise the chances of having people in police uniforms fundamentally ill suited to the job. The Police however require the support of the community they serve knowing that the system down stream to them, namely the Courts & Prisons are working not just efficiently but humanely.

Until progressives accept that incarceration & rehabilitation are not mutually exclusive then America will continue to chase it’s tail on this matter. Violent crime should carry an incarceration penalty. That said private prisons run on a for profit basis offer little in the way of rehabilitation and instead are often little more than gladiator academies.

For a nation that has the highest incarceration rate in the West you’d think America would have the most experience in rehabilitating its prison population, yet the recidivism rate suggests otherwise. What chance does a young male convicted on minor drug charges have once he enters the prison system to come out a reformed man? If your answer is next to none then you have to accept the system is fundamentally flawed.

To simply defund the Police in a knee jerk reaction sets the stage for far worse things to happen going forward. As ever it will be America’s inner cities that bear the brunt of this liberal high-mindedness.


This was probably the most important part of the Scottish Model of Youth Reform paired with Proactive Policing. They decided to take a non-carceral route for all but the most serious cases with Youth Offending- i.e. a serious stabbing. Teachers and schools, social workers, youth centres and sports like boxing and martial arts were all brought into the process- but the most powerful tool of all was employer buy-in from employers of blue collar workers. It wasn’t just economic opportunity, but also access to male mentoring through on-the-job training and supervision.

The less far someone has travelled down the wrong path, the easier it is to change their life’s trajectory.


I don’t believe the people at the heart of the Defund The Police proposals have anyone’s best interests in mind. They look to me to be far-Left people intent on destabilizing society.

They’ve tapped into a much larger group of mostly white not-so-far-Left individuals (my dad’s term was “bleeding-heart Liberals”) who suckered themselves into supporting this shit-the-bed-stupid policy, but are now backpedaling.


Well, it’s not as though there isn’t still a need for Criminal Justice Reform or indeed Police Reform, but the problem is they keep looking in the wrong places and assigning the wrong motives.

I watched this a while back:

I found it heartbreaking for the simple reason that they all had fundamentally noble motives, but had no idea about how to achieve the lasting changes that are possible and have been proven to work in places like Scotland, with their public health Youth Reform approach.

The worst thing was seeing him take advice from a twentysomething criminologist and call it ‘science’. Proactive policing is proven to work- the data-driven reasonable suspicion proactive approach has done than any other root cause to reduce violent crime in the entire Twentieth century. The kid keeps referencing an industrial dispute in which the NYPD rank and file reduced rent-seeking activities (principally issuing summons) which only really qualifies as proactive policing in a tiny percentage of cases. Little wonder- in an often pretty unpleasant job rent-seeking fines consistently rates in the top four of things least liked by police officers.

It worked in every country it was tried. The reductions in violent crime were substantial, and other theories like lead don’t hold water- in this specific case because there were no corresponding impacts in cognitive terms. If he really wanted to change things he would have opted for a shorter sentence disruption approach for nonviolent drug dealers aimed at shifting open air dealing to more discreet locations.

It slows the conveyor belt of gang grooming. The dealers face financial repercussions through massive lost trade and the fear that when they get out they will have lost their spot. Making the shorter sentences contingent upon significant fines would also be a great tool. Because one of the problem with the War on Drugs was it that pitched a finite player (police resources) against an infinite player (an unregulated market).

Shorter sentences also have the advantage of preserving quality of life, and if they include rehabilitative approach on the back end, you’ve got a fair chance of more responsible and caring family members snitching on their own kids in the hopes of them finding a safer, reasonably dignified blue collar job at the other end of a short stretch. That was the really profound thing about the Scottish model, the extent to which they were able to get employer buy-in and shift previously disruptive and often violent teenagers into decent work paying taxes as roofers, chefs, construction workers, etc. Apparently they tended to me more loyal, more grateful and less likely to ask for promotions and pay raises long before they were warranted.

The American economy had 7 million of these jobs vacant and waiting to be filled in 2019.