Editorial | Police funds don’t go toward our safety


AP Photo/Kevin Hagen

A police officer stands watch at the entrance of 36th Street Station after multiple people were shot on a subway train in Brooklyn on Tuesday.

The New York Police Department saw a $200 million budget increase in 2021, making their budget upwards of $5 billion. While some think that this budget increase may lead to a safer community with an increased police presence, incompetence from the police has prevented this. 

When a gunman released smoke grenades and opened fire in a Brooklyn subway on Tuesday, the police didn’t find the suspect. An average New Yorker spotted him more than 24 hours later. Meanwhile, the counterterrorism unit of the NYPD was seen a few blocks away at a homeless encampment the morning after the shooting.

Despite the millions of dollars that are poured into police departments, policing in this country is still highly unsafe, prioritizing the wrong things and neglecting the safety of its citizens. Policing as we know it needs to change. These departments need to accept a pay cut with money going toward safe crime prevention or figure out how to better allocate funds to ensure everyone’s safety.

The incompetence that the police showed during the Brooklyn shooter situation shows that increasing the number of officers in the city doesn’t help public safety. Eyewitnesses report, which the NYPD disputes, claim that after the shooting, the captain at the station didn’t stop the trains where the suspect could have escaped

Despite New York Mayor Eric Adams’ increase in uniformed officers in subway stations, more than 3,500 police officers couldn’t prevent a shooting and took an unacceptable number of hours to find the suspect. 

Cities such as Austin have reduced police budgets over the past couple of years and have instead successfully put their money toward community development. The money has gone to everything from public safety efforts to helping the homeless. There are ways to make communities safer without the presence of police — especially when they are incompetent. There is also very little research that says that increased police presence leads to less crime, so policing needs to be rethought— including allocating funds to different resources to keep the community safe.

Despite rumors that defunding police — or at least funding police departments less than we do now — leads to more crime, evidence shows that crime prevention, such as increasing educational opportunities and community programming, leads to less crime and a safer community. Funding for the police shouldn’t go toward arresting homeless people or people selling food in the subway or even those jumping the subway turnstile. It should go toward community development. 

At the very least, those $5 billion dollars should have been able to stop a shooter at large from escaping police custody with thousands of officers in the region.