Opinion: Thank, not defund the ASU Police Department

Defunding the ASU PD is unsafe, irresponsible and furthers an ungrateful perspective

On Sept. 1, the Undergraduate Student Government Tempe voted 13-4 with one abstention to “defund, disarm and demilitarize” the ASU Police Department. 

While this USGT resolution will have no tangible impact on ASU PD, it remains a slap in the face to the men and women who courageously serve our ASU community, while it simultaneously undermines our community’s safety.

The resolution — which wholly disregards police officers’ safety — asks the police department to “suspend the carry of firearms … includ(ing) the reserve carry of any firearms that are not regularly carried by ASU PD, such as any rifles possessed by ASU PD.”

An ASU Police spokesperson said in an email that “having our officers unarmed would compromise the safety of our students, faculty and staff. ASU police officers are properly trained in the use of force, to include firearms, which are essential when responding to potential acts of violence on campus, such as an active shooter type situation.”

Unfortunately, there have been far too many shootings on college campuses: Virginia Tech, Umpqua Community College, Oikos Community College, Santa Monica College and many more. How can police respond to active shooters if they are unarmed?

While slogans like “defund the police” and “abolish the police” are increasingly echoed by young Americans, the notion that communities are safer with fewer police is simply untrue and dangerous, especially for those living in high-crime neighborhoods. 

After the New York Police Department’s anti-crime unit was disbanded as part of a $1 billion budget cut, there were 177% more shootings in July 2020, compared to July 2019. 

Some attribute the rise in shootings to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic fallout. However, there were fewer "crimes of desperation" such as grand larceny, or theft of property valued at more than $1,000, during the same time period. 

A recent poll by Gallup found that 81% of Black Americans would prefer police spend the same or more time in their communities, despite the growing notion that defunding the police is beneficial to communities of color.

Joseph Murray, a sophomore studying political science, said in a message "if the police are defunded, the police would be in a reactive role rather than a proactive role" and "would only have the resources to react to crimes in progress after they have happened."

We are all horrified by instances of police brutality, but it’s unfair to cast a wide net on the over 600,000 police officers in this country due to the actions of a few. A recent Pew study found 86% of police officers say "police work is harder today as a result of these high-profile incidents." 

 It is never right to define a large group by the actions of a few.

“We understand and respect those who are seeking to implement social justice initiatives in light of the tragic events this year involving some police officers in various parts of the country,” the ASU PD spokesperson said. “But reducing the capacity of a police department that is here solely to serve and protect the campus community will only make the campus less safe.”

Law enforcement isn't optional, but while left-wing activists are calling for fewer police, police are proposing reforms and greater accountability.

Police officers have a job that most are unwilling to do. Most of us wouldn’t deliberately put ourselves in danger to protect a stranger. Even fewer of us would be willing to do this job while protecting a community that is seemingly ungrateful.

ASU Police — along with Tempe PD and the nation’s 600,000 law enforcement officers who uphold the honor of their badge — deserve our utmost respect.

"Without them, we would have a lawless society" Murray said.

Reforms, such as those proposed in the JUSTICE Act, are needed, but it is imperative that all of us “back the blue" and show our appreciation. Thank an ASU Police officer the next time you see one and show them that this USGT resolution is not representative of the ASU community.


Reach the reporter at arondla@asu.edu and follow @arjunrondla on Twitter. 

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors. 

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