, 02.02.2023 07:48 AM

My latest: deploy, not defund

Defund the police.

Those three words became a rallying cry in the Summer of 2020, when a Minneapolis man named George Floyd was brutally murdered by members of that city’s police force. Across the United States – and across Canada and Europe – hundreds of thousands of angry people rallied to protest police brutality.

And, for many, their rallying cry became “defund the police.”

It was a pithy phrase, not too many syllables, and – to some – it seemed like the best way to prevent police brutality: take away police funding. That’ll teach them.

Except that it was foolish. It was madness. And, in particular, it became the best way for Donald Trump and his ilk to illustrate the excesses of woke folk. They repeatedly reminded voters that the Democrats wanted to defund the police.

And it worked.

Joe Biden may have won the presidency in 2020, yes. But the “defund the police” refrain shattered the Democratic Party’s hopes to sweep the Senate and the House of Representatives.

James Carville, Bill Clinton’s election mastermind, called the defunding cry “a terrible drag” on the Democratic Party. Joe Biden, for his part, was blunt: “I do not support defunding the police.”

But the damage had been done. Democratic Party ambitions were crushed by the “defund the police” idiocy. And now, up here in Canada, Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre has seized on the issue, too, and it’s working: he’s way ahead in the national polls, in part, because of it.

You’d think that urban progressives would remember all of that. You’d think that they would recall that the best way to alienate the majority of voters is to advocate “defunding the police” – in effect, leaving people to protect themselves and their families.

But no. They’re at it again.

The recent decision of Toronto Mayor John Tory and Toronto’s Chief of Police to assign up to 80 police officers to the city’s transit system was denounced by many progressives who should know better. Despite the shocking number of murders, assaults, rapes and robberies taking place on or near city buses, streetcars and trains, the defunders have not been swayed.

“People are already criticizing the increased police presence on the TTC,” ran the headline in the much-read BlogTO. It went on to quote palliative care doctor Naheed Dosani, who tweeted: “Make no mistake: The violence we’re seeing on the TTC won’t be addressed by having more police present.” What was needed instead, Dosani wrote, was “more compassion.”

And, yes: more compassion is always desirable. But when your 16-year-old is being stabbed in broad daylight on a city bus – as one was, just a few days ago – feeling compassionate towards the person wielding the knife is a bit hard to do, isn’t it?

Like Dosani, author and activist Judy Rebick was unimpressed: “Some people, particularly Black and Indigenous people, will feel less safe on the TTC with more police.” BlogTO also quoted Jessica Neil, who pins a “defund the police” message to her Twitter profile. Wrote Neil: “Please understand this will not improve the safety of transit.”

Except, well, it does. And it has.

Three months ago, New York city mayor Eric Adams beefed up police presence in the Big Apple’s transit system. And it has worked. In just three months, major crimes have plummeted by nearly 20 per cent in NYC’s transit network.

The state’s governor, Kathy Hochul, appeared at a press conference this week with Adams to declare that the dramatic drop in crime “is a trend that we can feel good about.” Experts were similarly laudatory. Christopher Herrmann, an associate professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, suggested Adams and the police “can certainly pat themselves on the back” for their decision to bolster the ranks of cops.

Does police brutality happen? It does. Should it be investigated and punished, whenever it happens, without exception? It must be.

But the recent experience of New York City shows that defunding the police is not the solution. It in fact shows the reverse.

Don’t defund the police.

Deploy them.


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    Martin Dixon says:

    Seems pretty self evident? Bail reform too. I have been robbed at work and home at least 15 times(last summer was the latest and we got the guy on camera-stopped and had a chat with him when I saw him on the street a few days later, at least until the police discouraged that idea). Two robberies ago was while we were at home(that has happened a couple of times) by a guy that was out on parole after about 29 charges against him(one of which was almost killing someone in a high speed chase). Luckily I was not aware he was out there because my nature would have been to confront him and I would probably be currently dead. It was about a $20,000 robbery and I did testify against him(my wife was afraid to) but he had so many other charges against him when they caught up with him(he dropped a cell phone in my driveway(Darwinism at work if we would just not interfere with the process) that they did not even convict him of that crime. 4 years ago, so he is likely wandering the streets again. While his advocates, discussed above, are wringing their hands about root causes.

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      Martin Dixon says:

      I had actually forgotten about my first major robbery. At home in 1988 pre cameras and alarm system. The music fans that visit this site might relate to the loss. Maybe a $25,000 claim. Had been away for the weekend. Get home on Sunday afternoon. Open the door and it was clear that we had been robbed. My wife is in the kitchen very upset. I run through the house and past all the rooms where stuff had been stolen. I was only looking for one thing. Didn’t care about the rest of it. 120 90 minute custom made mixed tapes that I had been working on for almost 10 years. Gone. Even offered a reward for them, no questions asked(which some of the local lawyers had some fun with because apparently that is not legal). It was so depressing, I stopped buying albums for 10 years.

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        Gilbert says:

        That’s so sad. I completely agree that we need more police.

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          Martin Dixon says:

          Kind of a first world problem-losing your music collection and I have only been a property theft victim but it is early. And additional police would not have helped but there is no way that guy who almost killed someone in a high speed chase should have been out of jail.

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    Pipes says:

    Sadly I see an armed Canada. Canadians with guns similar to the US. It is so obvious to me.

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    PJH says:

    RCMP in my little town are overworked and underpaid. Unless you are victim of a major crime, the best you will get from Canada’s finest is a file number.

    There is nothing that couldnt be fixed with more boots on the ground, and more PC’s on the road. We cleaned up my old neighbourhood of drug dealers and hookers with one dedicated cop, and a number of concerned citizens. Will it ever be the idyll of my childhood?…No, the town has grown far too large for that…..but at least kids arent finding used syringes on their way to school anymore.

    Will it cost us more, most certainly……but little compared to the costs of society spiralling down to anarchy.

    Those who call for defunding the police may work/play in those areas where police abuses have occurred, but I suggest most retreat to the their gated communities or condos in tony neighbourhoods at night, safe and secure

    Personally, I’d like nothing more than to see a few heavily armed police on a few more street corners, but of course that upsets the sensibilities of the smart set.

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    EsterHazyWasALoser says:

    Retired CBC journalist Michael Finlay was the latest victim of a random fatal attack in Toronto, on a busy street in broad daylight. What else needs to happen?

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    Ronald O'Dowd says:


    Sure, deploy them but bring in major police reform at the same time. It’s long overdue.

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    Robert White says:

    As an Experimental Psychology expert I, for one, understand why progressive left policy makers want to defund police given reinforcement via funding for behaviours left-of-center adherents find socially unprofessional.

    I registered for Ottawa Police Services Board via the province so that I could obtain board membership and the OPS Board Chair position, but then I realized I had to be voted in as ‘OPS-Chair’ which necessitated getting elected so I dropped out of the competition.

    OPS Board Chair position pays $54k per year stipend whereas mere OPS Board membership only nets $8k per year.

    The conflict associated with the position of OPS Board Chair is outsized in the Ottawa area due to lackluster behaviour on the part of the force over time.

    OPS executive understand the issues and are cleaning up their collectve acts, frankly.

    Toronto must be orders of magnitudes worse than Ottawa.

    Thanks for broaching this subject matter. It’s important contemporary Social Science IMHO.

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    Curious V says:

    It’s not about defunding police, it’s about modernizing police. Of course you need more cops to deal with all the drug use, robberies etc., but you also need better housing, treatment, and accompanying professionals like social workers. Otherwise the problems will continue. Police are an important ingredient, but just part of the solution. Do something about the drugs, robbers, assholes mugging folks on public transit, and do something about housing, do something about food security. Police alone are a band-aid on a gaping wound.

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    Curious V says:

    I think the police should be forcing folks into treatment for drug use, and I’d like to see them do something about the drug dealers brining this garbage into out communities.

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    Sean says:

    Defund McKinsey… and deploy the police to their offices.

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    Martin Dixon says:

    At one time there a line that said a conservative was a liberal that has been mugged. Haven’t heard it in a while though.

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    Steve T says:

    Spot on. Defund the Police was almost entirely a rallying cry of people who lived comfortable lives in communities where crime wasn’t rampant, and/or other folks (eg: youth) who never really witnessed the anarchy that quickly descends into areas the police don’t go.
    The idea that social workers were going to swoop in, give everyone a hug and comforting conversation to make the crime go away, just shows how totally out of touch the Defund group was.

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      Curious V says:

      If you’re an economist you look for root causes. A doctor looks for the underlying issues that cause disease. A plumber looks for the leaky pipes rather than just continuing to mop up the mess. They aren’t giving hugs, they’re there to offer housing solutions, treatment for mentally ill, food security for desperate people, and addictions counselling and treatment for drug addicts. Of course, whether it’s politically expedient or not, if you want to solve a problem you deal with the root cause. And of course police are part of the solution, they shouldn’t be defunded, but they should work in concert with other professionals and the resources necessary to solve this problem.

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        Ronald O'Dowd says:

        Curious V,

        I remember seeing a report (I think on CBC) about a regular RCMP patrol where a bona fide mental health professional was in the car with the officer and always attended at interventions as a co-participant. Baby steps sure, but in the right direction.

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        Steve T says:

        Ok fine – but punish the bad behaviour first and foremost. It is incredibly disrespectful to draw a straight line between poverty and crime – it does a terrible disservice to the vast majority of people who have difficult circumstances but still obey the law.
        We need to stop making excuses for criminals – especially violent criminals.

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    Peter Williams says:

    Re defund the police:
    Does a certain action advance or hinder the cause of the revolution?

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    Ronald James O'Dowd says:


    So much for the empathy and consideration of some Alberta lawyers:

    (From The National Post.)

    Alberta lawyers decry mandatory Indigenous cultural training imposed by law society.

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      Robert White says:

      Those lawyers deserve a lecture IMHO. I couldn’t believe the story when I read it.

      They are the embodiment of wholesale ignorance coast-to-coast-to-coast. They make Calgary look uneducated in the extreme, frankly.


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