Tribal citizens take part in a protest against the police shooting of Christopher Capps, a Lakota man who was killed in Rapid City, South Dakota, in 2010. Photo: Estella Claymore / Native Sun News Today

Native Sun News Today Editorial: Don’t defund the police, disarm them

There is a lot of discussion nationally about “defunding” police departments and like everything else, this is usually taken out of context and distorted by those who think this means shutting down the police departments when actually it means “restructuring” the police departments.

This means taking some of the money they are spending on military style guns and equipment, and armored vehicles, and using the money to fund social service agencies and mental health workers who should be doing some of the work the police are not trained to do.

Perhaps this approach should be taken one step further: Don’t use the word “defund” but instead use the word “disarm.” The police in Great Britain do not carry guns. The only time they are armed is if they are assigned to do a special project that requires that they armed.

How many Native Americans in Rapid City would be alive today if the police did not carry guns? It is much too easy to pull a gun and shoot someone that to used common sense to address a tense situation.

Over the years Native men have been shot to death because they had a knife. Shot to death for holding a knife? Why did the police officer who pulled the trigger just use his baton (night stick) to knock the knife from the man’s hands?

The question must be asked: How many Native American police officers are serving on the Rapid City police or on the Pennington County Sheriff’s departments? Every police department in America that has increased its minority members significantly, especially in a community with a large minority population, has found that it makes a great big difference.

White officers learn a little bit about the culture of the minorities by working with them on a daily basis. Oftentimes they even form friendships with the Native partners.


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