WASHINGTON – The Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) has published a report to shine a light on the dramatic misallocation of resources by the federal government and to meet the demands of the people calling for a reallocation of spending on law enforcement.
The report, entitled “Feeding the Beast: A Scope of Federal Funding for State and Local Law Enforcement,” outlines the billions of dollars in funding, equipment and other resources sent to state and local law enforcement each year. It urges Congress to heed the urgent call to defund police and shift its priorities by defunding programs that support state and local law enforcement and scaling up its funding for programs that support true public safety.
“In the midst of the ongoing and deadly pandemic that has taken over 274,000 lives, Congress continues to send billions of dollars to state and local law enforcement agencies while failing to provide basic resources for our most vulnerable and marginalized communities,” said Dmitri Holtzman, director of education and justice transformation, Center for Popular Democracy. “As calls for the defunding of the police continue to echo across the country, we are reminding congress of the dire need for investment in our communities that will keep us safe, healthy and free.”
In fiscal year 2020 alone, Congress budgeted at least $2.24 billion in funding through the Department of Justice (DOJ) for state and local law enforcement assistance. While the nation reeled from the staggering COVID-19 death toll and devastating economic impact of a mismanaged response to the virus, the country simultaneously experienced unprecedented levels of protest in the wake of yet another series of senseless killings of Black people by police. The cries for justice after the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and so many more will not go unheard.
The report also highlights programs like the COPS Office, which Congress has continued to fund since 1994. A component of the Violent Crime Control and Prevention Act of 1994 (colloquially referred to as the ‘94 Crime Bill) the COPS Office has been estimated to place an additional 100,000 police officers in the country’s most vulnerable communities — commanding upwards of $19.3 billion in funding since 1994, including $343 million in 2020. This dramatic expansion of the police state has directly contributed to increased violence towards Black people at the hands of law enforcement. The report also points to the $1 billion that has been invested in school resource officers which have been proven to have disproportionately harmful impacts on Black and Brown students in schools.
“We know that billions of dollars funneled into police departments and the carceral state do not keep us safe. We know that in order for our communities to thrive we must invest in critical social services such as housing, healthcare and education to live in a society that is truly safe, healthy and free,” said Jennifer Epps Addison, CPD network president and co-executive director at CPD.
This post was originally published on Radio Free.