Reform Police: Recommit to Law Enforcement

Defunding the police is just not an option.

In a new essay published by National Review, Project 21 Co-Chairman Horace Cooper and former Justice Department official John Yoo call out the craziness of the left’s demand that governments actually take money away from police departments as a method of criminal justice reform. They summarily rule out this notion:

Reducing the financial support of our nation’s police departments is a recipe for elevated crime and lack of safety in our communities, particularly those of minorities and the working class…

We could not imagine changes that would produce worse unintended consequences than shutting down or severely cutting back police departments. One of the few success stories in our cities has been the stunning drop in crime.

Additionally, Horace and Yoo consider other ideas that have thus far been suggested by liberals at the federal level to be “stale,” “repackaged” and even constitutionally questionable considering that police powers are largely reserved for the states under the terms of the 10th Amendment.

Yet Horace and Yoo have found the “opportunity to propose a truly radical program to address our failing inner cities.” A lot of that starts with pushing back against the Great Society welfare programs that have devastated black communities in particular.

Blueprint for a Better Deal for Black AmericaAnd many of the ideas they suggest can also be found in Project 21’s “Blueprint for a Better Deal for Black America” that was published in 2018.

Among Horace’s and Yoo’s suggestions:

  • “[C]onservatives should push to increase police budgets.” We simply cannot go back to the crime-plagued cities of the 1960s and 1970s.
  • Don’t turn cops into tax collectors. “During the last recession, state and local government embarked on an ill-fated strategy to increase the number and amount of fines and fees imposed on our citizens for everything from minor traffic infractions to municipal-code violations… [T]his action has generated a significant level of animus against law enforcement by minorities and the working class (groups that typically bear the brunt of these fines and fees)… Revenue raising should be returned to the state- and local-government bureaucrats, freeing officers to stay focused on traditional crime fighting — activities that all Americans can support.” This would also decrease the chance that “minor infractions can escalate into major altercations” like in the death of Eric Garner.
  • Police unions should be reformed. “The left’s critiques of police unions mirror those by conservatives against teachers’ unions. Both unions exist to protect the employment of their members, rather than serve the public good.”
  • There must be an emphasis on better officers rather than more of them. “Police departments… increase the requirements for new recruits and work to improve the professionalism of their existing workforce. Instead of affirmative-action hiring and promotion, standards for being in law enforcement should be made tougher and should focus on getting the best individuals regardless of color or creed.” Body cameras can be integral for building greater trust.
  • “[W]e should proactively adopt policies that will minimize the need for police involvement… [and] look at time-tested approaches — faith, free markets, and community responsibility — to aid us in our efforts.” These include opportunity zones that go beyond policing and include support for charter schools, tax incentives for scholarships, a bigger role for faith leaders and groups, relaxed regulations on things like occupational licensing and the minimum wage and waiving the Davis-Bacon Act that favors unions over independent black contractors in federal construction work.

“Ultimately the discussion about law enforcement is an important one, as is the role that police officers play in our society,” Horace and You write. “Refocusing law enforcement so that it can play its critical role more effectively, while bolstering the foundations of our communities, will help make our inner cities not just safer, but also places of opportunity and hope.”

Horace brought up many of these same issues on a recent edition of Sean Hannity’s nationally syndicated talk radio program. Click the YouTube link to hear that interview.

Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives for over 25 years, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research. Its members have been quoted, interviewed or published over 40,000 times since the program was created in 1992. Contributions to the National Center are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated, and may be earmarked exclusively for the use of Project 21.