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Vanessa Velez has a good relationship with her landlord, and part of the reason is because she always paid the rent at her Centerville residence on time.

 

But that mutual goodwill might have taken a hit when Velez, the mother of five, quit her job as a psychiatric aide last year over fears of exposure to COVID-19, worries she might contract the virus and pass it to her youngest child, and the frustration and delays she encountered when applying for unemployment benefits.

 

“I couldn’t just walk in there and explain my situation,” she said of state offices which closed during the pandemic. “And I couldn’t get anyone on the phone,” as the system was overwhelmed, clogging online servers and forcing a backlog from the flood of requests.

 

She worried not only about how she would make rent, but also about what might happen to her, her partner and her children, now down to one income. Eviction, she knew, would affect her credit, and haunt her for years, derailing her dream of owning a home. She tried to find other, safer employment but it took time.

 

Velez, though, applied for rental assistance through a Camden County program that used state and federal CARES Act funding to keep her and her family housed, to keep her landlord paid, and to keep her from incurring long-term debt and credit problems.

 

On Thursday, county and city officials gathered downtown to announce an additional $15 million to help people like Velez remain in their homes, and to keep their landlords, often with their own debts and expenses, paid.

A website, www.camdenrentgrant.com, has been set up or residents may call 856-389-6704 to begin the process of applying for this second round of aid. Assistance goes directly to landlords, and is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

 

The money will help renters who are as much as 12 months behind on rent and utilities to stay in their homes, said Camden County Commissioner Al Dyer, and includes assistance for internet access — vital for those who have students at home learning remotely, or those who have or are seeking work-from-home employment,

 

“I’m a product of this city,” said Dyer. “My family was evicted six or seven times… Sometimes people just need a little more time, and this gives them a little more time.”

Camden Mayor Vic Carstarphen called the funding “a lifeline for our community,” noting the disproportionate impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on urban areas and communities of color, like Camden, where more residents work in front-line and essential jobs, or in healthcare, or live in multigenerational households.

Ray Lamboy, chief executive officer of the Latin American Economic Development Association (LAEDA), noted there are currently 4,000 evictions pending on Camden County court dockets, while Councilman Angel Fuentes called the crisis “a legitimate need” for families undergoing financial crises as a result of the “chaos and confusion” caused by the pandemic and its economic fallout.

 

Nichelle Pace of the Camden Business Association added that Camden is in the midst of “a recovery on top of a recovery”: Long plagued by poverty, unemployment and blight, Camden has seen an infusion of economic development through state tax incentives and corporate expansions, but the pandemic may have stalled some of that progress,

 

“This is only one of many things the city needs to raise all boats,” she said.

 

For Velez, who now works as a bilingual clerk for Camden County and has been helping with vaccination efforts, the assistance buoyed her family, and the lifelong Camden resident said that while she’s heard for years about grants, aid and assistance to help working families, “This is something we can actually feel.”

 

She didn’t want to stay unemployed, she said, and her children ages 18 to 2 all have their mother’s sense of independence, an example she wanted to continue to set for them.

 

Now she’ll get to set it in a new place: Worried last year about eviction and ruined credit, she’s about to buy her first home.

It’s no surprise that many people would like to acquire this trait and would like to see their children develop strong leadership skills. While leadership remains easy to define and identify, a consistent summation of characteristics that make an effective leader remains elusive. So, too, does the way to impart leadership to an eager young mind.

 

There are many institutions that propose to teach leadership in different areas, with varying success rates. There are even people who speculate that leadership is an innate trait, and therefore can’t be learned. However, there seems to be something of a consensus regarding the relationship between sports and leadership, at least as acknowledged by governments and industry.

 

Not just any sport will do, however. Team participation is often cited as an important aspect in using sports to develop leadership skills. In fact, team participation is often more important than the physical component, as a search through the biographies of the captains of industry will show: few of them were High-School Quarterback. They all were on some team, however.

 

Sports are highly competitive, and their nature is to push enthusiastic participants to achieve more than their rivals. In fact, the basis of competitive sports is rivalry, and it is in this competitive atmosphere of team sports that pushes people towards “taking one for the team”, and fostering team spirit. It is within the cohesion of a team that a captain will stand out and acquire the position of leader.

 

This doesn’t mean that people who participate in relatively individual activities such as jogging or weight lifting can’t use their chosen sport to improve their leadership skills. For example, one of the benefits of indoor cycling is that you can communicate with fellow spinners while working out, and help build a team. Organizing teams will help motivate the members to get more out of their routine as well as provide leadership opportunities for the team.

 

Competition is one of the bases that produces leadership, which is why the University of California hosts Leadership Competitions along with other institutions that foster leadership, such as the Rotary Clubs. Competition is a motivating factor in human psychology, and one of the traits of leadership is the ability to motivate people to challenge themselves and meet goals.

 

Competitive team sports creates and environment where people have to work together in order to achieve their goals. Team spirit and the ability to work with others is an essential part of being a leader. An often overlooked part of leadership is the ability to work within a team, which also means listening to other people and understanding different points of view. Someone who can’t play for the team cannot hope to lead it.

 

The teams and competition of sports are an analogy of the teams of coworkers and competing businesses that leaders must face in the world. The skills learned in each are valuable in the other. If you’re looking to build your own leadership skills or those of your children, consider taking on an exciting and challenging sport today.

 

Jordan Spindler is a freelance writer and avid fitness enthusiast. His health and fitness articles have been published in a number of national news publications, including the Houston Chronicle and the San Francisco Chronicle. He is a graduate of the University of California Riverside, and although his degree is in English, his passions are fitness and self-improvement.

The Product Management Perspective: The teamwork aspect of sports fits nicely with product management because product managers are usually very competitive. Use that competitive drive to not only become a great team player, but also the team leader.

Carlton Soudan said when his grandmother passed at the age of 103, she still enjoyed the backyard of her home. There were honeysuckle vines and trees, and Bergen Square was once a quiet neighborhood of rowhouses.

 

No one can go into the backyard at 620 Chestnut now, at least not without a sturdy pair of boots and a strong sense of resolve: It’s almost completely overcome by mud and dirt from a massive pile that’s quickly encroaching on the tiny home with the red-and-white metal awnings.

 

Soudan, who owns the house that’s been in his family since the 1940s, lives nearby but the house is occupied by elderly family members, he said. He worries about their health and safety, and that of the entire neighborhood.

 

Camden officials enlist residents to help clean up their city

 

Roy Jones, an environmental activist who lives in nearby Whitman Park, called the presence of the pile — one that’s easily five stories high and takes up about half a city block — a manifestation of the environmental racism and illegal dumping that’s plagued Camden for decades.

 

A lawsuit filed by the state last month alleges the pile contains carcinogenic material and is the scene of repeated violations of environmental regulations.

 

“You will not find anything like this in any other towns in Camden County,” said Jones. “You will not find this in any other county in South Jersey. It’s unique to Camden and it’s a tragedy what’s going on in the City of Camden.”

 

Jones, who leads the National Institute for Healthy Human Space, and other activists gathered at the site Friday morning to draw public attention to the pile.

Among their demands: That the dirt be immediately removed; that the entire site be cleaned; and that residents can be tested for any health problems caused by possible toxins.

 

“On a dry day, you can breathe in toxins from the air,” Jones said. “On a rainy day it affects our drains in the City of Camden and our storm drains and this can affect the groundwater of the City of Camden.”

 

Indeed, during Friday’s heavy morning rains, dirt flowed out from the site, into gutters, down storm drains, into driveways and into Soudan’s backyard and a narrow alley next to the home.

 

The mud was so thick, boots sunk into it; in his backyard, a paint stirrer he placed showed it was at least 3 or 4 inches deep and out in the street, deposits were also inches deep.

 

Shaneka Boucher, a Camden City Council member who represents Bergen Square, and committee member Sheila Roberts both said the city is aware of the pile. Prior city administrations, state lawmakers and others have all tried to address the problem, with little success, but she and Roberts both said the new administration and Mayor Vic Carstarphen have made remediation and holding the property owners accountable “high priorities.”

“The situation is unbearable,” said Roberts, “and the heat wave has made it worse.”

 

An informational meeting with residents will take place Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Union American Methodist Episcopal Church nearby, she added.

 

In a civil complaint filed in state court last month, the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office said that the owners of the property where the pile is are in “decades-long noncompliance with environmental laws and regulations which continue to expose the Camden community to pollution and other environmental and public health hazards.”

 

The defendants — S. Yaffa & Sons Inc.; William Yocco; Charles Yaffa; Weyhill Realty Holdings Inc.; XYZ Corporations and several “John and/or Jane Does” — “have unlawfully imported and stockpiled solid waste on their Camden property,” the suit alleges, “including contaminated fill material, construction and demolition debris, and waste tires.”

The alleged illegal dumping and other actions at the site, the state said in the complaint, have continued “despite … repeated administrative efforts including numerous Notices of Violation and a Final Agency Order to compel compliance.”

 

The Attorney General’s Office noted that Camden “has a significant low-income and minority population.”

 

“Historically, across New Jersey, such communities have been disproportionately exposed to high-polluting facilities and to the resultant threats of high levels of air, water and soil pollution and accompanying potential for increased public health impacts,” it added.

 

The Attorney General’s complaint says the DEP began inspecting the site in 2002 and since then has found “numerous, repeated violations.” It also notes the presence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and metals, known carcinogens that can cause liver, kidney and other cancers.

 

Jones and Soudan said the state “shut down” the site recently, but the soil remains and keeps encroaching on surrounding homes, streets and businesses. As recently as Feb. 4, the DEP inspected the site and observed “continued commingling of construction and demolition debris with soils.

 

A call to the Attorney General’s Office was not immediately returned Friday.

 

Asked a day earlier about the pile and residents’ concerns, city and county officials both said they’ve long worked to bring the site owners into compliance with no results, and the state is planning additional announcements next week.

 

“We know it’s been more than just a nuisance to the neighborhood,” said city spokesman Vince Basara. “It needs to be addressed immediately and we’re working with the county and state to hold them accountable. We know of the direct impact to residents, and this administration will not tolerate this kind of illegal dumping.”

 

“It’s outrageous and appalling to think that a company, based in Cherry Hill, would be so soulless in their actions that it could even think of storing five stories of soil next to a residential property and so close to other homes,” said Camden County spokesman Dan Keashen.

 

“Weyhill Realty Holdings has created unacceptable conditions for the residents of Camden,” said Keashen. He said the county’s health department is working closely with the city and state “to ensure that the site is properly cleaned and remediated to make the neighborhood whole again.”

 

“Furthermore, our objective, outside of remediation, is to hold the property owner accountable for their actions in building a makeshift landfill in our city and county,” Keashen said.

 

No phone number could immediately be found for Weyhill; the company’s website has apparently been taken down.

 

For Soudan, he’s worried not only about his house, one whose back walls and windows are darkened by dirt, brick, mud and stone fragments. He’s worried about his neighbors.

 

This part of Camden is bounded by heavy industry and an interstate highway. It’s beset with people in addiction and the dealers who cater to them. On Friday morning, Camden County Police were a block away, crime tape blocking the intersection where gunfire had killed one man and wounded another.

 

“I worry about my whole community,” he said Friday morning. “People breathe this. When it’s not raining, the dust blows everywhere. People don’t have air here so they leave their windows open and all the dust goes in their houses.”

The philosophy of Independent Living holds as its axiom that disabled individuals are themselves better at assessing their needs than anyone else. This is a form of disability empowerment. To be able to direct their lives, such people with disabilities must organize so that they will have the political power to promote solutions for their dignity and voice. Among the ways that they can be empowered are with self-representation, de-institutionalization, and de-medicalization.

 

With the empowerment that more independence affords them, disabled people can attain a sense of autonomy. If provided the ability to participate in society without the barriers of institutional control and to stereotype, these individuals can have normalcy, a condition that allows them to attain a sense of pride and freedom and control over their lives. Oftentimes, assistive technology is tremendously helpful in supplementing ability. Also, service deliveries controlled by the choices of individuals support their desire for independence better than institutional control. Cash benefits have been found to be superior to services in-kind regarding users’ quality of life and cost-efficiency because the individuals are afforded the choice of what will best serve them. With such benefits, disabled individuals can take the initiative in directing their lives and act as experts on their particular needs.

 

The Individual Living approach affords individuals with disabilities the opportunities for personal choices and the benefits of technology that can assist in their independence. With this independence, such disabled persons have an enhanced pride in themselves. For, they can live more independently as they direct the course of their lives without the imposition of a public agency. Like others, they are individuals with personal desires, and by having more independence, they can better fulfill these yearnings. Most importantly, with the Independent Living Approach, disabled people have many of the same opportunities that non-disabled people do. This approach allows these disabled individuals to live with equal opportunities and thrive within their own terms and conditions.

Policymakers are increasingly viewing colleges and universities as important engines of growth for their local areas. In addition to having direct economic impacts, these institutions help to raise the skills of an area’s workforce (its local “human capital”), and they do this in two ways. First, by educating potential workers, they increase the supply of human capital in a region. Perhaps less obviously, these schools can also raise a region’s demand for human capital by helping local businesses create jobs for skilled workers. In this post, we draw on our recent academic research and Current Issues article to outline these pathways and how they might inform local economic development policy. (We also discuss our findings in a new video.)

 

Colleges and universities are assets to their regional economies, especially because they spend money in their local areas and employ local workers. The higher-education sector also tends to contribute stability to a region since it’s less susceptible to downturns than other sectors of the economy. Indeed, the education sector expanded before, during, and after the Great Recession.

 

These institutions also play an important role in their local economies by helping regions build their skilled workforces. This contribution is significant because regions with higher levels of human capital—measured by the share of the working-age population with at least a bachelor’s degree—tend to be more innovative, have greater amounts of economic activity, and enjoy faster economic growth, and workers in these regions tend to be more productive and earn higher wages.

 

One pathway through which colleges and universities can increase their region’s human capital is by affecting the supply of workers—producing college graduates who can potentially enter the local labor market. But newly minted graduates are a highly mobile group, so it’s not necessarily true that producing more degrees will increase the local supply of skilled workers. Graduates need jobs, which may or may not be available, and they also may want to live in a different place than where they earned their degrees.

 

The second pathway—increasing the local demand for human capital—is at least as important. Colleges and universities play a role in raising demand for high-skilled workers through their research-and-development activities that have spillover effects into the local economy. Businesses can take advantage of university knowledge and research facilities to develop new products and technologies, and new companies may be drawn to the region because they want access to university resources. In fact, most major research universities have established technology transfer offices in an effort to more effectively harness the synergies between university research and commercial product development. These interactions can generate new jobs requiring high levels of human capital, which are filled by workers who got their degrees locally or from somewhere else.

 

There are many examples of these types of effects throughout New York State. At the University at Albany, for example, a consortium of computer chip fabricators works together with research faculty on the university’s campus to develop products and technologies, and these companies gain access to cutting-edge laboratories and supercomputers. In Ithaca, home to Cornell University, there are more than eighty companies—in industries ranging from information technology to medical equipment to agriculture—located in the metro area with direct ties to the university. Many of these businesses were started by Cornell’s faculty or students, and have remained in the local economy to stay connected to the university. Other companies have been attracted to the region because they gain access to specific knowledge or new products and processes invented at the university.

 

Indeed, our research provides evidence that colleges and universities can raise local human capital levels by increasing both the supply of and demand for skill within metropolitan areas. We find that doubling a metropolitan area’s degree production is associated with a 3 to 7 percent increase in local human capital levels. At the same time, doubling a metropolitan area’s research intensity is associated with a 4 to 9 percent increase in these levels. While these effects appear to be relatively small, they suggest that an increase in higher education activity can result in a permanent shift in a region’s human capital stock.

 

We also find evidence that the activities of colleges and universities can alter the composition of local labor markets. In particular, metropolitan areas with a larger amount of higher-education activity tend to have a higher share of workers in high-skilled occupations, such as computers, math, and science, as well as business-related fields. This relationship suggests that linkages between local economies and higher-education institutions are strongest in economic activities requiring innovation and technical training. And, significantly, activities in these areas have been shown to be particularly important drivers of local economic development.

 

While these measured effects are relatively small, they do suggest that regions can in fact increase their skilled workforces by more effectively harnessing the potential of their higher-education institutions. An important lesson from our research is that policymakers seeking to maximize the economic impact of their local colleges and universities should consider policies beyond retaining local graduates; helping local businesses create high-skilled jobs is at least as important, and can be accomplished through fostering partnerships between businesses and their local colleges and universities that help them take advantage of the fruits of research.

Last June, video of white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin killing George Floyd, a Black man, went viral on social media. Uprisings took hold across hundreds of U.S. cities, and activist calls to “defund the police” went mainstream.

 

For some, “defund the police” is a movement, a stepping stone toward abolishing police departments entirely.

 

For others, the idea of defunding the police is limited to simply restricting money for military-style equipment.

 

For many, the definition lies in the middle — there should be police, but their role in communities should be limited to crime prevention. The idea goes that service agencies other than police could and should respond to non-violent calls related to mental health, housing and other issues. Berkeley, California has even moved to create a separate department to handle routine traffic violations.

 

Here, we explore what “defund the police” means to leading criminologists, community organizers and legal scholars; recent academic research on whether more police presence reduces crime; and what the future of policing in America might look like.

The national conversation on ‘defund’ is ongoing

CBS Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell asked Joe Biden whether he supported defunding the police on June 9, 2020.

 

“No, I don’t support defunding the police,” the then-presidential candidate said. “I support conditioning federal aid to police based on whether or not they meet certain basic standards of decency and honorableness and, in fact, are able to demonstrate they can protect the community and everybody in the community.”

 

Nearly two dozen cities have since taken steps to reduce police funding or redirect funds toward other services — though the 50 largest U.S. cities slightly increased their law enforcement spending as a percentage of their combined 2021 budgets.

 

As some cities recalibrate police spending, “defund the police” remains relevant, and contentious, in the national conversation.

 

Earlier this week on “Fox News Sunday,” host Chris Wallace asked U.S. Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana why he and other Republicans voted against a COVID-19 relief package that directed billions toward community programs and policing, including hiring more officers.

 

Wallace asked, “Can’t you make the argument that it’s you and Republicans who are defunding the police?”

 

Banks replied, “Not at all, Chris.” After some back-and-forth with Wallace, Banks pivoted to political rivals:

 

“When Rep. Ilhan Omar says that policing is rooted in evil and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi compares police officers to Nazi storm troopers, it makes it very difficult for police departments around the country to recruit people to become police officers.”

 

In July 2020, in response to President Donald Trump sending camouflaged and heavily armed federal law enforcement to Portland, Oregon, to arrest protesters and protect federal property, Pelosi tweeted, “Unidentified storm troopers. Unmarked cars. Kidnapping protesters and causing severe injuries in response to graffiti.”

 

It’s unclear whether Omar has described a specific law enforcement department or police generally as “evil.”

 

But she has called the Minneapolis Police Department a “cancer” and “rotten to the root.”

Different interpretations of ‘defund’

“Defund the police” is something of a Rorschach inkblot test — people bring their own interpretations to the phrase.

 

“‘Defund the police’ means reallocating or redirecting funding away from the police department to other government agencies funded by the local municipality,” writes University of Maryland sociologist Rashawn Ray in a June 2020 Brookings Institution blog post. “That’s it. It’s that simple.”

 

Around the same time as Ray’s writing, activist and educator Mariame Kaba wrote a New York Times opinion essay titled, “Yes, we mean literally abolish the police.”

 

“We are not abandoning our communities to violence,” Kaba writes. “We don’t want to just close police departments. We want to make them obsolete.”

 

Criminologist Brooklynn Hitchens, an incoming assistant professor at the University of Maryland, put it like this: “I do feel police are deeply corrupt and troubled and I don’t know how to work within a system that is that corrupt,” she says. “But, at its core, ‘defund’ the police is about reallocation of funds to more social service-based agencies, whether it’s housing or mental health.”

 

Peter Moskos, a criminologist at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, questions why money for expanding social services should come from police coffers.

 

“I’m all for funding mental health issues and homeless issues, but the idea that it has to come from the 5% of city budgets that goes to law enforcement is absurd,” he says.

 

Seth Stoughton, an associate professor of law at the University of South Carolina, sees “defund” as shorthand for more social service investment, as well as reexamining what law enforcement means in America.

 

“Homelessness, poverty, substance abuse — we’ve criminalized a range of human behaviors and we’ve relied on the police to be the social service agency not just of first resort, but sometimes our only social service agency that deals with these issues,” he says. “So what I think when I hear ‘defund the police’ tends to be, ‘Reduce the need for police to respond to some of these social issues by investing in a more robust overarching social service infrastructure.’”

Violent crime is rising

As an array of American voices rose around “defund the police,” so did violent crime. Homicide rates increased 30% in 2020 in 34 large U.S. cities, according to the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice, a non-governmental coalition of 14 current and former police chiefs, elected leaders and community advocates.

 

Criminologists hesitate to point to a single factor to explain rising homicide rates. 2020 was a unique year, considering the pandemic, racial justice protests, more gun purchases, widespread layoffs, school and office closures, and a hotly contested presidential election.

 

Last week, the White House announced a new strategy to address violent crime. At a news conference, Biden struck a holistic tone, with more, not less, federal funding directed toward policing. Biden stressed the $350 billion pool, part of the American Rescue Plan, available to state and local governments to hire more police.

 

The White House will also work with 16 cities, including Minneapolis and St. Paul, on community violence intervention programs. Violence intervention programs usually rely on trusted community members to mediate conflicts before they become physical and to connect people to social services. State and local governments can also use the federal money to help young people find summer jobs. Studies published in Science have linked community engagement and summer jobs to reduced violence.

Cities don’t usually bust their budgets on police

Despite calls to defund the police, policing does not usually comprise a huge portion of municipal spending. Since the 1970s, state and local governments combined have spent about 4% of their annual budgets on policing, while overall crime rates have fallen since the 1990s.

 

Most police funding in big cities goes to compensate officers and other personnel. Local governments spend about 6% of their budgets on police, compared with about 1% of state budgets, according to an analysis of Census Bureau data by the Urban Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank.

 

“I’m a tax-and-spend Democrat,” says Moskos, a former Baltimore city police officer. “I want other programs to be funded more. But what does that have to do with policing?”

 

He notes that city spending on police can vary widely. Typically, according to Moskos, whether a city spends a large percentage of its budget on police is related to whether the city also pays for education. Cities direct a bigger percentage of their budgets to policing if the county or some other entity pays for schools. By far the largest share — 40% — of local spending goes toward education, according to the Urban Institute analysis.

 

Still, Moskos says, the point remains that police spending often represents a small portion of city budgets and money for social services could be found elsewhere.

 

“Law enforcement is 3% to 5% of the spending that happens in a city — that’s not including federal money,” he says. “So why not fund those things from the other 95%? Or raise taxes. ‘Defund’ is inherently anti-policing at its core. I don’t understand how that is going to make policing better.”

A range of policing futures

Law professors Stephen Rushin and Roger Michalski, writing in the Florida Law Review in 2020, suggest that widespread defunding of police departments “could increase crime rates, hamper efforts to control officer misconduct, and reduce officer safety.”

 

Rushin and Michalski take “defund” at face value, meaning police budget cuts. Instead of defunding police departments, they propose states redistribute policing funds equitably to localities, including money for officer training and accountability efforts.

 

“Just as some state legislatures have passed revenue-sharing initiatives designed to equalize the availability of public goods such as education, so, too, should states act to equalize the funding of local police departments according to need,” they write.

 

In contrast to a redistributive funding framework, Ohio State University law professor Amna Akbar argues in a December 2020 California Law Review article that scholars need to take seriously activist calls for abolishing the police. Akbar writes:

Abolitionist demands like ‘defund the police’ remind us that if we are interested in building a more just world, we cannot wage our battles simply on the terrain of rights, litigation, rule of law, or administrative innovation. We must consider the historical, material, and ideological dimensions of our demands and our strategies. We must examine where we invest money and what kind of infrastructure we build for collective life. We must investigate the ideas that motivate and justify things as they are. We must appraise who has what resources, for what end, and why. We have to understand how such profound inequity came to be, why it persists, and what needs to be redressed to create the equitable society we aspire to but have not yet realized. We have to ask: If police and prisons are the stuff of structural violence, what are the elements of structural flourishing, and what are the strategies to build them

Some prominent law enforcement professionals have indicated an openness for shifting police responsibilities away from non-criminal situations.

 

“The police would be very happy to get rid of responsibilities which were forced upon them in the first place,” former New York City police commissioner and former Los Angeles police chief Bill Bratton told The Crime Report earlier this month. “We created the homeless problem when we closed down mental institutions back in the 1970s. But there was no [follow-up] funding for the homeless.”

 

Bratton added: “If you take that responsibility entirely away from the police — who work 24 hours a day — you’re going to have to create a huge budget in other agencies needed to staff these functions 24 hours a day. I would suggest, you know, as we go forward with these efforts, we’re going to find the police are like weaving a garment, that we are going to be a central thread in that garment, no matter who they give the responsibility to.”

 

University of Arkansas criminologist Jordan Blair Woods, in a forthcoming Stanford Law Review article, suggests redirecting another core function away from police: traffic enforcement.

 

“A major obstacle to achieving structural police reform in this important moment for policing is the conventional wisdom that a robust police force is needed to enforce traffic laws,” Woods writes. “This obstacle is especially problematic given that traffic policing is a persistent source of race- and class-based injustice.”

 

A handful of cities in recent years have proposed divesting traffic stops from policing. Last July, lawmakers in Berkeley approved a new traffic enforcement department separate from the police department.

 

Princeton University sociologist Patrick Sharkey in a June 2020 Washington Post essay recalled traveling to Western Australia in 2017 to observe the work of the Nyoongar Patrol, a government-funded patrol made up of community members:

I watched them break up a fight between two young people before the police were called. At the end of the night, I saw them make calls to find a safe place to sleep for a woman who was worried that she would be at risk if she went home. I observed from the periphery, and I was still exhausted by the end of the shift. It is hard, stressful work to spend time in public spaces, making sure everyone feels safe. But it works better if those taking on this task are motivated by genuine concern for their neighbors.

Police presence and crime reduction

No matter what policing looks like in America’s cities and counties in the coming years, there is evidence that more police presence can reduce crime.

 

A March 2021 paper in The Review of Economics and Statistics examines what happened when patrol cars in Dallas were called away from their usual beats during 2009. The author, Tel Aviv University economist Sarit Weisburd, associates a 10% decrease in Dallas police car patrols away from their beats with a 7% increase in crime.

 

“While the allocation of officers to beats may be driven by the demands of providing fast response times, in reality, the presence of these cars reduces the probability of crime,” Weisburd writes.

 

A 2019 meta-analysis published in Campbell Systematic Reviews associates hot-spot policing with lower crime rates. Hot spot policing can take several forms, but generally it means assigning more police to high-crime areas, more community engagement and more traffic enforcement.

 

The authors did not generally observe results indicating crime spilled into areas around hot spots. There were instances, such as a hot spot program in Mesa, Arizona from August 2008 to March 2009, where crime displacement happened.

 

Meanwhile, research published in September 2017 in Nature Human Behaviour found that a certain type of proactive policing could increase crime. Specifically, aggressive policing of low-level offenses — the “broken windows” method Bratton helped popularize in New York City in the 1990s. “Broken windows” supposes that having police focus on eradicating visible disorder, like panhandling, loitering and broken windows, can reduce major crime.

 

Amid a labor dispute in 2014 between New York City police unions and Mayor Bill de Blasio, officers held a work slowdown for nearly two months. During the slowdown, “broken-window” policing declined — and so did complaints of major crimes, like burglary, assault and grand larceny, the authors find.

 

Hitchens, the University of Maryland criminologist, thinks spillover is likely when police flood a neighborhood experiencing high crime.

“The people selling drugs will move to a different block,” she says. “Sometimes [police] will be hyper-focused on getting people off the street corner. But all of those are Band-Aids. It can have a temporary reduction in violent crime but it doesn’t reduce it long term, probably for a lot of reasons. A lot of those efforts are short lived. There’s no stability or long-term plan, and they’re not addressing the root causes.”

 

Her view is based on her research experience, including interviewing street-identified Black men and women in Wilmington, Delaware on their encounters with law enforcement. Hitchens and her co-authors explain what “street-identified” means in their 2017 Sociological Forum paper drawn from those interviews:

 

“Criminal involvement as a way of life is a ‘site of resilience’ and form of coping with extreme economic poverty. ‘Street life,’ ‘the streets,’ or a ‘street’ identity is phenomenological language used by persons active in crime as an ideology centered on personal, social, and economic survival.”

 

Hitchens adds that Black Americans “do want police generally.” One-third of Black respondents from a nationally representative YouGov poll taken in mid-June 2020 expressed no trust in the police as an institution. Black respondents were split on whether there should be “more cops on the street,” while two-thirds indicated racial bias in policing should be addressed “by reforming the existing system.”

 

A nationally representative USA Today/Ipsos poll of 1,165 adults conducted online in March 2021 found 28% of Black respondents supported “defunding the police” while 37% were against the idea. When asked whether police should be abolished, 51% of Black respondents said no, compared with 22% in support.

 

“Just like your average middle-class white family, they want their families to be protected and sit out on their porch and drink a cup of coffee without experiencing harassment from police or having someone come up and ask for drugs,” Hitchens says. “They want to feel safe. What they do not want is the abrasive and abusive treatment.”

 

For Hitchens, who is currently conducting a study of how Black residents in Baltimore view police and the “defund” movement, there is at least one group of people consistently left out of the “defund” conversation: street-identified, formerly incarcerated individuals.

 

She says, “Any time you bring those people to the table — I have seen time and time again — when they’ve had a chance to voice their thoughts, they not only have fresh ideas, but who is better-versed to work on a problem than those who are most affected?”

The case of Camden, New Jersey

Police budgets sometimes shrink after recessions, as jobs disappear, tax dollars dwindle and federal funding is redirected. The Marshall Project reported in June 2020 that community trust eroded and there were more complaints about officer use of force when police budgets were cut in Memphis and Chicago after the Great Recession.

 

But, as The Marshall Project notes, there is at least one fundamental difference between recessionary reductions and the “defund” discussion. Local police budget cuts due to waning financial resources seek the survival of the force. Calls to defund the police over the past year are aimed at rethinking policing entirely.

 

Camden, New Jersey, often comes up as an example of a city that reframed its approach to policing and reduced crime. It also spent more to do so.

 

Camden disbanded its police force in 2013 after one of the city’s most violent years on record. Camden County took over and in May 2013 formed a new department, the Camden County Police Department, to patrol the city.

 

CCPD instituted community-based policing tactics along with new technology, such as a video observation platform covering a six-block radius.

 

Overall crime per 100,000 Camdenites decreased by more than half from 2012 to 2020, according to CCPD data, while the number of shooting homicides fell by 68%.

 

“Camden got more money,” Moskos says. “More money is not a panacea, but you’re not going to get better for less money. That’s my issue with ‘defund.’ It makes policing worse. It is that simple. The people who generally want to abolish police think police don’t prevent crime.”

 

Research published in late 2019 in Preventive Medicine Reports also associates the new policing tactics in Camden with lower rates of gunshot patients at a major regional trauma center. On average, there were 34 gunshot patients treated every three months before the policing changes, and 26 quarterly gunshot patients afterward.

 

“The ways in which police there actively engaged with the community worked,” says Hitchens. “Crime did go down in the city. But Camden is still a very poor and distressed community. So the root causes that increase crime are still there.”

 

She adds: “As a country, we are very punitive. But if you get at the root causes of crime — poverty, poor schools, poor housing — attacking it from that angle has been demonstrated time and time again as an effective way to reduce crime.”

Warrior or guardian?

One way for communities and police departments to rethink policing in America is to pursue a cultural shift of what it means to be an officer on patrol.

 

Stoughton, the University of South Carolina law professor, has for years advocated that police should think of themselves first as guardians, not as warriors. He wrote “Principled Policing: Warrior Cops and Guardian Officers,” published in October 2016 in the Wake Forest Law Review.

 

This philosophical shift is perhaps most critical for beat cops, says Stoughton, because beat cops often represent the primary interaction community members have with law enforcement.

 

Stoughton himself served as a beat cop in Tallahassee for five years in the early 2000s.

 

It’s about an individual officer’s default mindset, Stoughton explains. Are they a warrior? Or a guardian?

 

Here’s how he puts it:

 

“What is their job supposed to be — are they primarily there to kick ass and take names? Or to pull people over and get a bunch of citations written? Or, are they there to improve quality of life? Are they there to advance public safety? In other words, are they there to identify and deal with an enemy, or are they there in service to the community?”

 

There are two key elements to Stoughton’s questions. The first is that an officer being a warrior or a guardian is not an either-or proposition — it’s not a dichotomy. An officer will have to be a warrior sometimes — in an active shooter situation, for example — while reverting to a guardian mindset day-to-day. Many officers spend the bulk of their time responding to non-criminal calls and traffic violations.

 

“The point is that officers need to be more than just warriors,” Stoughton says. “If that’s all an officer is capable of, they aren’t going to be a very good officer. Being a warrior is a small part of what officers need to bring to the job. The overarching part of what they need to bring to the job is this approach of guardianship — a service-oriented mentality.”

 

Recent preliminary research suggests the race and ethnicity of patrol officers could make a difference as to whether they are open to thinking of themselves first as guardians. An online, non-representative pilot survey of 882 patrol officers from around the country, published in January 2021 in the Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology, finds officers overall receptive to both the guardian and warrior mindset, with Hispanic officers “more supportive of this hybrid style of policing than White officers.”

 

(Response rates were too low for officers of other races and ethnicities to draw insight on whether they would be open to a guardian-first policing framework.)

 

The metaphor of guardian versus warrior isn’t just academic — it’s practical too, Stoughton says. Day-to-day policing can be mundane, but situations can change quickly.

 

“We use metaphor to communicate values,” Stoughton says. “When you don’t have clear guidance as to how to make a decision in a particular circumstance, you fall back on your values and principles.”

 

Stoughton learned the guardian mentality firsthand while patrolling Tallahassee, even if the word “guardian” wasn’t used at the time, and even if he didn’t yet understand it.

 

He particularly recalls an arrest warrant issued one evening around 11 p.m. Stoughton’s lieutenant told officers to wait to execute the warrant — it wouldn’t be a good look for the department to arrest a community member in the middle of the night.

 

“I remember thinking at the time, ‘That’s bullshit. This is a legal process. We should be allowed to do it,’” Stoughton says. “In retrospect, I think the lieutenant was exactly right. We don’t want to give the impression that we exist to knock down people’s doors late at night and tear them away from their families.”

 

He adds: “When and how we execute an arrest is as important as the fact of doing it.”

Camden County Commissioner Jeff Nash joined Mayor Victor Carstarphen, State Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez, City Council members, the Camden County Police Department, the Department of Public Works, Camden Fire Department & Parking Authority City of Camden for the launch of “Camden Strong” 2021. The new initiatives will focus on tackling blight, illegal dumping, and other issues. The new program calls for the implementation of a series of targeted activities aimed at addressing illegal dumping, community health, unsafe structures, public safety and nuisance concerns impacting the Camden community.

 

The City of Camden was on-site at the announcement to pick up debris including large bulk trash items, and began targeted street sweeping and the removal of abandoned vehicles. The Camden Strong initiative will continue throughout the summer and fall with an expanded series of neighborhood cleanups, public place restoration projects, streetlight repair and the ongoing citywide demolition project.

 

Neighborhood cleanup events are scheduled also to begin Wednesday, July 7th, 2021 in the Whitman Park neighborhood (Whitman Square Park – Louis & Everett Streets). Residents will be able to obtain information relating to recycling, e-waste, trash disposal and litter prevention in addition to other initiatives and City programs. Those interested in volunteering for Mayor Carstarphen’s upcoming Camden Clean Campaign events can contact the City of Camden by calling (856) 757-7671 or emailing camdenclean@ci.camden.nj.us