Although crime rates are at the lowest they have been in over 30 years, the number of arrests has declined only slightly between 2009 and 2010 and the U.S. still spends more than $100 billion on police every year to fund 714,921 sworn police officers and an increasing number of militarized police units.
This report does not argue that there should be no law enforcement, nor does it argue that some communities are not seriously harmed by crime, but rather that communities and the federal government should reconsider how much is being spent and on what type of policing. A balanced approach is needed that concentrates on prevention and doesn’t result in arrests and surveillance focused on communities of color. Perhaps even more importantly, communities should reject approaches to policing that are punitive and breed mistrust of police, undermining efforts to preserve public safety. The following are some of the main findings from the report:
- Expenditures, not crime, drive increases in police forces and arrests.
- More police don’t necessarily keep us safer.
- Crime is down, but arrests continue, especially for drug offenses.
- Militaristic policing does more harm than good.
- Some communities are disproportionately affected by policing.
- The negative effects of over-policing, including punitive, militaristic policing, outweigh the benefits.
- Community-supportive and supported policing protects public safety without the negative side effects.
- More spending on policing means fewer resources available for other public safety strategies that are better forcommunities.
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