JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - It is understandable to be upset, angry and outraged when law enforcement officers abuse their authority and commit horrific crimes. When we see that abuse of power, it is easy to understand why some people think funding should be redirected.
However, reduced funding is not the solution.
We know there are bad cops and we must hold those law enforcement officers accountable. But there are also many, many people who rob, steal, assault, rape and murder. When that happens, people are going to call 911 and they expect officers to show up and help.
Some cities, including Jackson, are seeing an increase in crime as criminals become more emboldened, putting an increased demand on the police force. So far in 2020, there have been 74 homicides in the Capital City.
If that pace continues, it will be the deadliest year ever.
When the pay for police officers is so low, the quality and quantity of the applicants will be lower. Right here in Central and Southwest Mississippi, many local law enforcement operations have a tough time recruiting and keeping officers.
In fact, the Jackson Police Department is short more than 100 employees and I am confident that poor compensation is a factor impacting that shortfall.
In addition to better pay for officers, there needs to be more funding to hire people who are skilled at dealing with social and mental health issues, community engagement initiatives and de-escalation training.
Police officers are not experts in the myriad issues they must deal with every day.
Law enforcement is critically important in keeping our communities safe. And living in a safe community is at the top of the list for pretty much everybody. The current law enforcement and judicial system model might be outdated and in need of a major overhaul, but defunding is not the way to fix it.