A Chicago BLM activist names Jessica Disu calls for the police to be -- well, she isn't very clear about what she wants. She says she wants them "demilitarized," "disarmed," and "abolished." From my perspective, that's three options rather than one. FOX News took her to be insisting on abolishing the police outright, but one could merely demilitarize or merely disarm them. One of those solutions isn't terribly radical -- I've been advocating for years that the police be armed like citizens, rather than like a branch of the military or some other specialized force. The other two are more radical.
The problem is that, asked the inevitable question, she didn't have a clear answer. That's too bad, and it might be worth trying to find out if there's a better answer forthcoming on reflection.
I think that for maybe 90% of the country -- by land mass, not by population -- we really could shift to the model of having the police work like fire departments rather than operating as patrols. Especially given the prevalence of cell phones now, it's almost always going to be the case that you could call for help if you needed it. I think this would have a very positive effect on police/citizen relations, as I have written a couple of times lately. It's very close to how policing works where I live now, and would probably work fine for most parts of America where the population is not deeply dense and crime rates are quite low.
However, Ms. Disu is talking about the least plausible places for that model. Most of America continues to enjoy historic lows in violent crime. That is not true for certain parts of several cities, where there has been a sharp uptick in crime of late. These are all poor, densely-populated urban areas with criminal gangs and drug violence. There is a plausible argument that police withdrawal from these communities, out of fear of sparking a BLM protest, is what is behind these upticks in violence. It doesn't seem like fewer police patrols is helping these areas.
So this is the real question: is it possible to replace the police in these areas with some sort of community action? Like a local citizen militia, say? Or is the answer going to be a more robust police enforcement -- say of Project Exile laws that would raise the costs of criminals carrying guns high enough that they'd stop doing it?
Or why not both? You could organize local militias like volunteer fire departments, to operate with the professional fire-deparment-like police in most of the country. As with volunteer fire departments, the government would support the volunteers by helping to fund training exercises and limited facilities. In the urban areas, whether a militia's citizens' arrest or a peace officer's arrest was at work, the Feds would back them up by actually enforcing these robust Federal laws against felons and drug gang members who carry firearms.
It seems as if we could get this under control, while also improving citizen/police relations.