Instigator / Pro

Defund the Police


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Contender / Con

"Defund the police" became a popular outcry in June 2020 following the murder of George Floyd. Defund means “to withdraw financial support from.” It does not necessarily mean to take away all funding. I will argue in favor of lowering police budgets than what was allocated for fiscal year 2020 (the budget that was agreed upon in 2019) by 5% or more before all the social unrest. In this debate I will be focusing on mid size to large cities across the U.S.

Round 1
Defunding the police does not mean abolishing the police. It means reducing funding, and mid size to large cities should reduce their budget by at least 5%. They can do this by cutting waste, reducing the number of things police respond to, how they respond to them, and by outsourcing duties away from police departments to other agencies. This frees up police to focus and prioritize public safety, and not mental health issues, or other community infractions that different agencies can handle instead.

How can this be done? First look at what police spend money on. The majority is salaries. A simple way to reduce the police force is by reducing the number of people in jail. Many of them do not belong in jail for long periods of time, and many belong in mental health facilities instead. Invest in psychiatric care for these people, instead of criminalization.

You can also reduce the size of the police force by reducing the number of tasks police respond to. Start by decriminalizing prostitution and pot across the country, so police are not dealing with the investigations, arrests and processing of these petty crimes. Change how, and maybe who deals with traffic violations. By reducing the number of interactions with cops, and most people interact with cops regarding traffic violations, you reduce the likelihood of violence. In the U.K. the unit of police that handles traffic incidents, like many of their officers, are not armed, and that is why police kill far less civilians there than in the United States. The police should be unbundled, and not a one size fits all agency to deal with everything that is wrong or potentially dangerous in society. 
Also, in the United States police spend a lot of money on militarization. Since the 1990s, over 8,000 law enforcement agencies have acquired more than $6 billion worth of military equipment, such as night-vision goggles, machine guns, armored vehicles, bayonets, grenade launchers, and military aircraft. With more military equipment came an increased use of military tactics, such as SWAT teams and no-knock raids, by law enforcement agencies.  One study found that use of military style operations by law enforcement increased by more than 1,400% since 1980. 

None of this makes our cities safer. We have much more rape, murder, and other violent crimes in the U.S. compared to Europe, accounting for population. We have four times the murder rate of our neighbor Canada as well. If policing alone is not to account for this, though it is surely a large part, then we can look at how these other countries invest its money in people as opposed to law enforcement, and see if that will deter crime and the need for so much police as well. 

More research showing the military equipment does not make cities safer, it just makes police more likely to use it against citizens. 

Without increased safety, what is the point of this? Cities do not need to spend as much on tanks and other military equipment, as they currently do. 

Policing should also have better budgeting, and better planning, with penalties for employees who mismanage or miscalculate the way you would in the private sector. Many times police unions allow corruption to be swept under the rug, and there are a lot of abuses that go ignored. Police management should be hiring the correct number of employees, and manage their personnel better, so there is not so much exploitation of tax payers. The numbers show that many police departments in cities all across the U.S. engage in fraudulent overtime schemes, where they get a much higher salary than warranted. 

Not only does this hurt the wallet of citizens, but sometimes cops create fraudulent schemes to punish citizens, while raking in overtime. These are common, but I do not want to waste so many characters on links. Most times police unions go out of their way to protect bad cops, engaging not only in overtime and money making schemes, but other corruption or incompetence as well. Unions shield bad cops from accountability, which costs money in litigation, and paying bad cops who might be not working or on other disciplinary courses. Not to mention all the money that has to be paid out to citizens on behalf of cop abuses and penalties. It is hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars. 
As you can see, cities spending so much does not necessarily make us safer. Cities can take measures to reduce the number of police personnel or overtime payouts. They can stop protecting and paying bad cops. They can reduce the number of infractions that warrant arrest or jailing. They can invest in mental health, and other agencies to deter violence and stop punishing people in the wrong way. Homeless people do not need to be in jail, they need a place to live. Cities can stop spending billions on military style equipment, that many misuse against citizens, as opposed to making them safer. With all of this in mind, the police can and should be defunded. 

Firstly, my opponent has established that defunding the police is lowering police budgets of midsize to large cities by 5%. This is the only thing that is implemented by Pro, meaning that any other benefit must be proven to happen as a result of the implementation of the resolution. For Example, claims that police forces will “release people from jails” or that there will be “decriminalization of prostitution and pot” need to be proved as results of the resolution, and not something Pro can say that should happen.

Pro’s Case

Reducing Prison Populations

My opponent says that lowering prison populations will allow for the lowering of the police budget.

First, prisons are operated by the federal government, state government, or private entities contracted out to these areas. This means that even if we did lower the prison population, it would in no way affect local police departments budgets.

Second, to preempt the conversation that it’s about local jails,a majority of these are ran by counties. This means that local police departments for cities will once again not have their budgets affected.

Third, the jailed populations of urban areas have declined 18% in urban areas, but rose 27% in rural areas. This means that this decline is already happening in the status quo for your target but is desperately needed in the areas you ignore.

Decreasing Police Officers’ Jobs

First, the decriminalization of certain crimes is the job of legislators and not officers. This means that you can’t guarantee this will happen in the face of a decreasing budget.

Second, changing who deals with traffic violations (or any other crime) would require a reworking of legislative code for involved cities,counties, states, or the federal government. This means that, once again,simply lowering the budget doesn’t guarantee this will happen.

Third, the “unbundling” of the police, if not done through the creation of other bodies, will require training, new hires, and a host of other expensive start up costs for police departments to diversify their workforce. This means that the solutions purported for police killings is going to cost more money, not less.

Military Equipment

First, the characterization that police departments havegotten $6 billion worth of equipment is technically true, it’s misleading to a fault. Police departments only pay for the cost of shipping. This means that police departments are getting this equipment for peanuts, meaning that cutting it doesn’t even affect the budget enough to meet the 5% ratio, meaning this won’t be something cut.

Second, defunding the police doesn’t guarantee the cutting of these programs, meaning that there isn’t a guarantee that this will be solved.

Third, the abolition of SWAT teams and no-knock raids are once again a legislative action that must be taken and not something my opponent does any work to prove would come around from the defunding of the police.

Comparison to European Crime Rates

First, state and local police expenditures constitutes 0.59% of the U.S. GDP, while every EU country (besides Denmark, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, and Finland) andI celand and Switzerland spend more than this as a percentage of their GDP. This means comparisons in crime rates for these countries might serve to benefit the proof that more is more.

Better management of Police

First, this is a legislative issue, once again. Without the ability to create legislation to actually be able to warrant change to the system, there isn’t any guarantee that police are going to actually get this management from simple defunding.

Con Case

Civil Seizure

I say multiple times that these police departments and legislative bodies wouldn’t magically write the laws necessary to allow for the cutting of the finances like my opponent hopes, so the question becomes what police departments would do to supplement this spending. The answer is an even larger abuse of civil forfeiture law. In$2.5 billion worth of spending, 81% of this has been attained through civil forfeiture. The same source outlines how this is specifically used in times of budget constraints to still allow the blatant militarization of the police that my opponent condemns. Since this isn’t part of the budgeting process, the constraints my opponent would cause an increase in this to make up for it. This Means two things. First, that my opponent can’t solve for any of his harms.Second, this is used to target poor minority communities. In California, counties with the highest rates of seizure were below the average household income for the state. The same thing was seen in which neighborhoods were most likely targeted in Cook County, Illinois according to the same source. Since cash is suspicious and able to be seized, this just affects groups that don’t have access to bank account. Defunding the police will just lead to practical muggings of poor minority communities by the police.


Currently, police are filling a niche in society, and while there might be a question of how good that niche is, it’s there. Assuming that civil forfeiture or some other funding program doesn’t fund these communities, then what will pick up the slack left behind? Private security councils. Chicago, which has pushed for defunding of the police, hired 100 guards to protect businesses for $1.2 million. We’re seeing communities in New York City hire private guards to protect property from protestors feeling the police aren’t up to the job. There is no accountability for these groups and no public scrutiny. On top of this, even if private security councils are better trained in the status quo, this training isn’t a requirement. There are two impacts to this. Firstly, this makes safety from crimea luxury rather than a right if only those who can pay for police get police.Second, with less accountability, there’s going to be a higher chance of danger to the community. Defunding the police will lead to a worse version of itself.

Round 2
I will start by attacking Con's framework. He says "claims that police forces will release people from jails or that there will be decriminalization of prostitution and pot need to be proved as results of the resolution, and not something Pro can say that should happen."  I do not have to prove that those things WILL happen as a result of decreasing the budget, because I explained that doing those things WOULD decrease the budget. You have to do those things FIRST, so saying I have to prove that would be a RESULT of reducing the budget makes no sense.

Con says a smaller prison population does affect local police departments budgets. That is incorrect, as local governments do spend money on police,  corrections and courts. "Most spending on police was done by local governments (87 percent) in 2017. Looking at specific types of local government, police spending in 2017 accounted for 13 percent of municipal direct general expenditures, 9 percent of township expenditures, and 8 percent of county expenditures."

Con says rural places are seeing more incarceration. His source says that is because "Rural communities lack both the resources and perhaps the political will to reduce incarceration, particularly for the growing number of people with drug and mental health issues. In the big city, you get a ticket and a trip to the clinic, but in a smaller area, you might get three months in jail.” This confirms that we are focusing too much on jailing people rather than giving them counseling for their addiction or mental health issue.

Con says because legislators make changes, you can’t guarantee a reduction in police force will happen if you reduce the budget.  Again, I am arguing a reduction in police is what SHOULD happen (in some cases) BY legislators. And I am not saying that a reduction in police force is necessary in every case. I said the police budget should be reduced, but that does not mean they have to fire cops. There are other ways to do it, so each community can look at their individual situation and see where funds can be shifted and reinvested elsewhere. Maybe a big city does not have to reduce the number of cops, but can reduce its pay or overtime payouts.  

Con says "the unbundling of the police, if not done through the creation of other bodies, will require training, new hires, and a host of other expensive start up costs for police departments to diversify their workforce. This means that the solutions purported for police killings is going to cost more money, not less."  I do not dispute the costs may be the same or even higher. I'm saying police should not be the ones to deal with every issue or problem in society. These alternatives might not always be cheaper, but I am arguing it is a better use of money. The goal isn't to reduce cost but to make society better. I only have to argue it is preferable to move funds away from police, I do not have to argue that we should be spending less money. I can argue for higher expenses and still win this debate. 

What if instead of dispatching cops, you dispatch medical and mental health first responders to de-escalate situations and provide social services. What if instead of jails, you invest money in the community for jobs, rehabilitation, and education. This might come with higher initial costs at first, but be better for society in the long run. I also would have to look at the potential costs to see if it would make a big difference. For example, police get a lot of military equipment at no charge, but have to pay for the maintenance and training on how to use them. Now why does the Los Angeles School Police need grenade launchers and armored vehicles that can go over mines? Get rid of the vehicle if the military doesn't want it, sell the scrap metal and invest in something else. 

Con says that because police departments only pay for shipping of these items, getting rid of them would not reduce the police budget by 5%. First I am saying to look into a combination of ways to reduce the budget based on each individual town and its needs. This alone will not accomplish it, but it will contribute to lessening costs. Second the cost of shipping to police is not peanuts as Con says, it is actually 1.7 BILLION DOLLARS

I would again like to address Con's repeated argument that "defunding the police doesn’t guarantee the cutting of these programs." This is the same mistake Con makes in the framework and all throughout the round. He keeps saying I have to prove that these things will happen as a RESULT of defunding the police, when I am saying doing a combination of those things is how we CAN defund police. These are some examples of how defunding can be done IF legislators push.

On Europe, Con says most countries in the EU spend a higher portion of their GDP on law enforcement. According to Eurostat, the EU spends roughly the same share of GDP on police and prisons as the US (about 1.2%), but European countries spend more on police than prisons. Con says because Europe spends more on police they may have less violent crime, but there are other reasons than having more police. They have less shootings because they have less guns. Explaining why there is less rape in Canada, sociologist Cecile Benoit says "It’s partly cultural and partly the way the rules and regulations and social policy work in Canada. The social net is a little bit tighter in Canada. Guns laws are very different, community cohesion is stronger with less individualism. We’ve seen that before when we do comparisons on murder rates and those kinds of things.” The same goes for countries in the EU.

More cops does not necessarily mean less crime. Data shows that the number of police has declined over the past five years, and the rate of police officers per 1,000 residents has been dropping for two decades. At the same time, the violent crime rate has also dropped. Again I am not saying every town should reduce its police force, but look to a combination of potential ways to shift funds. 

Con's case is that if we reduce the police budget, we will increase police abuse. Think about that for a second. Con is saying that we must keep things as they are or else communities (especially minority, low income communities) will pay the price. So Con is suggesting that police are extortionists who will not offer protection or intentionally hurt their own communities and tax payers if we do not keep the status quo. That is not an argument for more police, that is an argument for CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS into civil asset forfeiture that is illegal and immoral!  So yes it's true that cops steal more from people than burglars, but how is this an argument for maintaining the status quo? Con is acknowledging that police are corrupt criminals who exploit the most vulnerable people in society, and he threatens it will only get worse if we dare hold them accountable.  If anything this is an argument for getting rid of bad cops, and not forcing tax payers to keep paying the salaries of corrupt police.  Not to mention we can go back to Con's point on legislation and acknowledge that his entire case falls apart if we get rid of civil asset forfeiture. Sixteen states have already taken steps to reduce civil asset forfeiture problems by requiring convictions first, but we can take it further and prevent it all together.

Con's final argument is that if we reduce the number of cops, it will create an increase in private security. That seems to be done in big cities, especially during times of crisis like mass protests, but does not appear to be used in the majority of places. However Con's link points out some pros to using security guards. For example they don’t have unions striking deals to safeguard them from prosecution.  And because private security officers don’t have the legal protection of the badge, known as qualified immunity, they’re taught to use extra caution when exercising deadly force. Some people would be willing to pay for that peace of mind, but I am saying it may not be necessary if we can easily get rid of bad cops rather than cover all the costs of litigating their crimes, paying restitution for their crimes, paying for them to be on paid leave (not working), etc. While Con says there is less scrutiny for these contracted workers, the rules can be changed to allow for more scrutiny than we have of cops. For instance they may only contract out to private security firms that mandate the use of body cameras whereas many cops are against using body cameras.
Conclusion - police spending has tripled over the last 40 years, helping to make the U.S. a world leader in incarceration and police killings. We can be more creative by reallocating funds away from cops to other areas of investment in the community. We can look to Austin as an example. "The Austin police funds were reallocated to emergency medical services for Covid-19, community medics, mental health first responders, services for homeless people, substance abuse programs, food access, workforce development, abortion services, victim support, parks and more. The city council is using money saved from the police budget to buy two hotels to provide supportive housing for homeless residents. For decades, Austin has spent so many dollars policing homelessness, jailing the homeless, and paying for emergency rooms and 911 calls instead of reinvesting those same dollars to finally start reducing homelessness. Austin has started redirecting certain 911 calls to mental health professionals – a move meant to provide help to those crises instead of a potentially deadly response by police." - Source

I am not saying every town can or should respond the same way. There is not a one size fits all way to reinvest. But people are often supportive of defunding police once they understand that it's about re-funding other services and making proactive investments in public safety and health.

Before I get into it, I'd like to apologize for any missing spaces. I copy and paste my argument from a Word Doc, and it removes spaces seemingly at random. I try to go back and add them all in but I miss some.


First, my opponent says that they should get to say specifically how they cut the budget. This should have been in the description.My opponent should only be able to advocate for what’s in the description and resolution, especially since, as the author, they wrote what was in there. Without Holding them to that, the debate becomes misleading, trapping me in a debate I Wasn’t prepared for. If we look at the resolution and description, the onlything my opponent have access to fiating is the cutting of police budgets of mid-size to large cities by 5%. Any other action has to be a result of that,otherwise I lose all ability to negate the resolution on Con, especially since I’ve created my entire negative strategy based on the resolution not being shifted so I could show an alternative story of how police would deal with budget constraints. If my opponent wanted to cite specific budget cutting, that should be put in the description.

Pro’s Case

Reducing Prison Populations

First, my opponent cites where jails are spent on by local governments, but the problem is that the majority are ran by counties. My Opponent is trying to cut mid-size to large city police budgets, this means a county, not city, jail would have zero effect on the budget cuts he’s calling for. He showed that cities spend money on police, and I don’t doubt that, but I doubt that focusing on jails mostly ran by counties will be beneficial in cutting city budgets.

Second, if my opponent calls for prison populations, extend my source that shows they are mostly federal, state, or private and not locally owned.

Third, my opponent says that my argument about rural jail populations is proof we need to cut police budgets, but the problem is that Prois advocating for cuts in mid-size to large cities. This means that rural America That has the rising jail populations get left behind and don’t get the benefits. My opponent further cuts the cities lowering populations and leaves the cities getting worse alone.

Unbundling the Police

First, while this is an extension of the framework and its application to this point, it still stands. Without legislative reworking that my opponent can’t guarantee police jobs will be unbundled and cities will shift the money into social programs. Police departments could cut conflict de-escalation training and give raises to the mayor.

Second, without guaranteeing the creation of entirely new local agencies within these cities, the only way to be able to try and gain access to these services would be to create departments within the police department with more community outreach-based goals. This is going to cost money out of the police budget. This means cuts to the budget are going to make it harder to shift the police to a multi-faceted organization with the ability to employ social services.

Third, police training is lackluster. 39% of agencies require conflict management training. On top of this,departments on average only spend 8 hours training with Tasers, 25% of the necessary time according to the manufacturer. This shows that more resources need to be specifically put into police departments with specific goals. If you cut funding, police departments won’t be able to train to avoid violent confrontation, meaning police will still be just as violent.

Police Militarization

First, extend the framework argument to show that simply cutting funds does not guarantee that 1033 will be where the money is going to be cut from.

Second, my opponent continuously misleads you with how much the police departments spend on this. While the article cites “More than $1.7billion of surplus has been transferred over to police around the country over the past decade,” this does not mean that is what police departments paid forit. While that is the value of the equipment, we have to remember the police department only pays for shipping. My opponent’s use of these financial statistics is to mislead you, but remember, if the source just adds a value to the amount of equipment transferred, then police are not paying that amount, they’re just receiving that for near free.

EU Comparison

First, my opponent citesthat the EU spends less on prisons and this is part of the low crime rate but extend the entire prison debate as reason this doesn’t apply.

Second, my opponent cities cultural and economic factors for crime rates. If that much goes into the issue, then we need to see how we might not be able to make simple comparisons like the one my opponent tried to originally make about police spending. That Means this whole point should be a wash.

Con Case

Civil Forfeiture

I don’t think this point is evidence for the status quo, I think this is evidence for accountability and reform, but Pro is advocating for just cutting the budget in the status quo and hoping police will take it lying down. If this debate was Abolish civil forfeiture, reform the police, create social programs, etc., then this argument would be great evidence that something needs to be done, but when the resolution is to just lower their budget and hope they’ll play nice, then it forces these kinds of actions. We need to take these reformative actions first before simply cutting budgets. Remember, this debate isn’t a referendum on police, it’s a question of if cutting budgets 5% for mid-size to large cities will lead to a better world or not. As long as police have the legally ability to practically mug people, then there won’t be a better world because police will just use this to circumvent the budget cuts.


First, my opponent says that if we can simply get rid of the bad cops, then we won’t need privatization.Sure, but if you just cut 5% of the budget, what will happen? This Privatization is a possibility that some cities are playing around with.

Second, my opponent cite the benefits of no qualified immunity and no unions, but there’s two problems with this. First, unions can form in any industry as a lobbying force, so this could happen in the future. This lobbying could then lead to qualified immunity as we see it for cops. If it happened once, then there’s an empiric precedent to say it will happen again. The second issue is that this doesn’t outweigh the two impacts I cited. Security being a luxury and less public accountability are much bigger issues to deal with then a most likely temporary reprieve from unions which would lobby for immunity.

Round 3