Defunding the Police: Discussions on the Meaning, Efficacy, and Approaches

  • 09 Sep 2020
  • 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
  • Online via Zoom (must register to receive log in information)


IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This talk will be presented online using Zoom. Registration is required. Log in information for Zoom will be emailed to those who have registered by 3:00 pm on Wednesday, September 9.

Youtube Link:



Joseph Richardson, PhD, University of Maryland College Park and University of Maryland School of Medicine

Rashawn Ray, PhD, The Brookings Institution and University of Maryland, College Park.

Date: Wednesday, 09 September 2020
Location:  Online meeting via Zoom
Time: 7:00 pm

About the talks:

Dr. Richardson:

Evidence-Based Approaches for Addressing Gun Violence

Arguments for defunding the police have focused on non-law enforcement approaches to reduce gun violence in many US cities. At the same time, many large US cities have seen recent spikes in firearm related fatal and nonfatal shootings during the convergence of three epidemics: gun violence, COVID-19 and structural racism. Proponents for increasing law enforcement funding point to the increase in homicides during this period of social unrest as justification for maintaining the status quo. This session will present data from evidence-based programs that play a critical role in improving public safety and in many respects, are more effective in preventing and intervening in interpersonal violence than law enforcement. The presentation will highlight non-law enforcement approaches to reduce gun violence in the Baltimore/Washington DC corridor and the rationale for why defunding the police to support these programs is necessary.

Dr. Ray:

What does Defund the Police Mean and Does it Have Merit?

George Floyd’s death has galvanized much of America to move the needle toward police reform ideas—such as defunding police—that were previously viewed as radical. Defund the police means reallocating or redirecting funding away from the police department and to other government agencies funded by the local municipality. That’s it. It’s that simple. Defund does not mean abolishpolicing. And, even some who say abolish, do not necessarily mean to do away with law enforcement altogether. Rather, they want to see the rotten trees of policing chopped down and fresh roots replanted anew. Different from abolishing and starting anew, defunding police highlights fiscal responsibility, advocates for a market-driven approach to taxpayer money, and has some potential benefits that will reduce police violence and crime. In this presentation, I layout some of the main arguments for defunding the police that address calls for service, violent crime clearance rates, and law enforcement staffing. My research shows that municipalities are making changes in line with the defund police movement. So, while the word reallocate may be a more palatable, digestible word on the House floor or a city council meeting, defund surely gets more attention on a protest sign. And more importantly, it seems to be having an impact.

About the speakers:

Dr. Joseph B. Richardson, Jr., is the Joel and Kim Feller Professor of African-American Studies and Medical Anthropology. He holds a Joint Appointment in the Departments of African-American Studies and Anthropology at the University of Maryland College Park and a Secondary Appointment as Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Division of Preventive Medicine, at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He is the Principal Investigator for the Center for Injury Prevention and Policy (CIPP) at the University of Maryland R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center where he investigates violence, trauma and the effectiveness of hospital violence intervention programs.

Dr. Rashawn Ray is a David M. Rubenstein Fellow at The Brookings Institution. He is also a Professor of Sociology and Executive Director of the Lab for Applied Social Science Research (LASSR) at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is one of the co-editors of Contexts Magazine: Sociology for the Public. Formerly, Ray was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Health Policy Research Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley and he currently serves on the National Advisory Committee for the RWJF Health Policy Research Scholars Program.

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