Reforming vs. Defunding the Police

by | Apr 8, 2023 | LAW

What would rational police reform look like?

Reforming vs. Defunding the Police is a no-brainer: having no police means anarchy. Anarchy is not an alternative system of government. It is a method of gang warfare, which means it is a method that leads only to chaos and destruction. Further, poor people are the biggest victims of crime, and the ones who stand to lose the most in the “defund the police” movement.

However, police reform is absolutely needed. There are some racists among the police. (It is hard to know what percent they represent.) Those who break the rules must be disciplined or terminated, and those who break the law must be prosecuted.

What would reform look like?

  1. Police candidates should be hired partly based on cognitive ability because they need to make many decisions in situations that are complex, dangerous, and rapidly evolving. They need to be able to quickly grasp the full situation.
  2. Training should involve multiple taped, and preferably virtual, scenarios in which (often rapid) decisions are required. These trainings should be followed by feedback sessions. This should include how to detect and deal with mentally ill people or those high on drugs, as well as the best and safest way to overpower people who are out of control.
  3. Virtual training scenarios should also be used in hiring. Reactions to selected virtual scenarios could detect flagrant racism or psychopathic tendencies in candidates.
  4. Police officers should be taught how to protect their own safety. Being a policeman is a very stressful job. Many are killed, and many officers are resigning or retiring due to stress. Officers are constantly faced with emergencies, and their job description includes being threatened with violence and murder. They should be taught how to legally protect their own safety. This could reduce the incidence of panicked reactions. All should be required to wear high quality bulletproof vests and should be taught safety tactics. For example, should they ever stand in front of the entrance door when responding to a 911 call, or should they always stand to the side? How should they deal with a crowd? How should they approach a car that they pull over, especially at night? Though training now exists, I suspect that it is not extensive enough to give officers the tools needed to take full precautions in the always-present danger.
  5. Police should be paid much more than they are now, which will help attract the best quality people.
  6. Police officers who violate rights should continue to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Edwin A. Locke is Dean's Professor of Leadership and Motivation Emeritus at the R.H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland. He is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science (APS), the American Psychological Association, the Society for Industrial & Organizational Behavior, and the Academy of Management. He is the recipient of the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award (Society for I/O Psychology), the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Management (OB Division), the J. M. Cattell Award (APS) and the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the Academy of Management. He, with Gary Latham, has spent over 50 years developing Goal Setting Theory, ranked No. 1 in importance among 73 management theories. He has published over 320 chapters, articles, reviews and notes, and has authored or edited 13 books including (w. Kenner) The Selfish Path to Romance, (w. Latham) New Directions in Goal Setting and Task Performance, and The Prime Movers: Traits of the Great Wealth Creators. He is internationally known for his research on motivation, job satisfaction, leadership, and other topics. His website is:

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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