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With more than a million words in the English language, who in the world decided that “defund” was a good choice of word to promote the reform of our law enforcement system? The definition offered for that word is to remove funds or to prevent from receiving funds, and I don’t think that is the story the movement wants to tell.
No matter how flawed the system might be, some sort of police force is a necessity. We certainly don’t want to abolish it completely and go back to the vigilante justice that is the backstory for so much of the conflict we have today.
What is needed is not withdrawal of funds, but reallocation, or change. Roget’s Thesaurus offers half a page of definitions listed under change, including redefine, alter, adapt, amend, transform, revise, remold, and reconstruct, all of which seem to be more what needs to be done than defund.
But my favorite definitions are under the subheading of modify, and those include introduce new blood, shuffle the cards, shift the scene, and turn over a new leaf.
It seems to me that modify is exactly the word we want. I think everyone can agree that some new blood needs to be introduced into law enforcement, and the training cards definitely need to be shuffled to shift the scene as police departments turn over a new leaf.
We can’t defund our police departments to the point we are left without a means to apprehend those who break the law, but the identification of lawbreakers and the methods of apprehension can certainly be modified.
We don’t want a country dependent on vigilante justice, but neither do we want a system that teaches and supports a “shoot first and ask questions later” style of law enforcement.
Jean McCamy is a Wake Forest artist.