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Friday, January 27, 2023

Opinion

Police funding should be spent differently


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Jose Gonzalez-Campelo/The Cougar

Police department funds should be reallocated to de-escalation programs and mental health resources as police brutality continues to plague minority groups across the country. 

It is important to note that many Americans today feel that there is a need to increase funding for police departments, according to a Pew Research Center survey.

However, studies have shown that there is no correlation between police funding and the crime rate. Considering this, even if cities and the federal government spend money to fund police departments, it has neither a negative nor a positive impact on the crime rate. 

This is why funding needs to be reallocated rather than increased to more important factors that contribute to police brutality. 

The main contributor to police brutality is the discriminatory power imbalances according to the American Psychological Association which tends to harm Black people at a disproportionate rate.

Several police departments have implemented de-escalation programs, the dispatching of social workers to address matters related to mental health and psychological evaluations for police academies to combat this issue. 

Yet beyond this, nothing is being implemented to ensure long-term change. 

Prospective police officers entering a police academy are required to take an initial psychological evaluation prior to enrollment. But the majority of states, including Texas, do not require additional psychological check-ups on their police officers. 

For a job that is as mentally demanding as being a police officer, it seems state and federal governments, as well as the APA, are not addressing an important aspect of the psychological factor contributing to police brutality which is officers’ mental health

Beyond the initial psychological evaluation police officers take prior to entering the police academy, their mental health is never checked on again. 

The political climate that placed a stigma around police, most notably following the death of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer in 2020, has placed a heavy mental burden on police. 

The number of retirements and resignations of police officers since 2020 has risen substantially, and hiring has been reduced slightly. Even before 2020, rates of burnout and depression in police officers were going up when compared to the general population. 

Depression, for example, has been found to have a significant correlation with aggressive behavior. 

Placing a heavier emphasis on programs dedicated to officers’ mental health, with continued funding of programs that aid in de-escalating situations involving mental illness are some of the ways that state and federal governments can improve the interaction between police officers and the people they protect. 

JJ Caceres is a political science sophomore who can be reached at [email protected] 

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