Defund the Police

In September 2020, ArchCity Defenders, Action St. Louis, Forward through Ferguson, and CAPCR released an illustrated guide to what defunding the police in St. Louis can look like.

The guide outlines why it is necessary, shares quick facts about exorbitant police budgets, and gives examples of scenarios police could be removed from, i.e. homeless outreach, schools, and mental health crises.

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Defund the Police STL – An Illustrated Resource Guide Cover

This long overdue resource shares quick facts about exorbitant police budgets, gives examples of scenarios that can be resolved without police presence, i.e. homeless outreach, schools, and mental health crises, and urges reinvestment in community resources.


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Why It Is Necessary

When we recognize policing’s racist history and inadequacies, we know that police reform is not enough. We must invest in public health, housing, education, and social services, and divest from current violent policing practices as the default mode of public safety. #DefundThePoliceSTL

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What It Means

Defunding the police is the process of reallocating funds and responsibilities from police departments to community- based systems of safety, prevention, and de-escalation. “Defund the police” is synonymous with various “divest and invest” campaigns.


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Why it is necessary #1

Police are a tool of social control.
Modern-day policing originated from slave patrols, colonial police forces, and efforts to quash labor movements. Police are, and always have been, used to protect private property and powerful interests over people.

Bloated police budgets divert funds from investments that actually make us safe.
Police budgets are generally the largest line item in city budgets. As a result, insufficient funding is devoted to affordable housing, public education, medical and mental health care, and violence prevention programs — investments that actually promote public health and safety!


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Why It Is Necessary #2

If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
All social problems are not police problems! An entity trained and authorized to use force should NOT be the primary approach to addressing mental health crises, homelessness, drug use, and other social challenges.

Reform is not enough!
For decades, cities have attempted to reform police through increased accountability, diversity, and training. Because they did not question the role of the police, these reforms simply expanded police power, instead of stemming police abuse.


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Some fast facts
  • Most police officers only make one felony arrest per year; the majority of their time is spent addressing noncriminal issues.
  • St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department kills more people per capita than any other police department in the country.
  • St. Louis’ proposed 2021 budget allocates $137,586,585 from the general fund to the police. It dedicates $0 to homelessness. If budgets are moral documents, what are our priorities?
  • Despite intense media scrutiny and federal investigation of policing in St. Louis County prompted by the Ferguson Uprising in 2014, the 2020 St. Louis County Police Department budget is 45% higher than at the time of Michael Brown’s killing.


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Here are Four Immediate Steps to Defund the Police and Re-envision Public Safety

When we say “defund the police,” what do we really mean?

Here are four concrete steps toward re-envisioning public safety:

  1.  Remove police from scenarios that do not require their presence ⠀
  2. Reduct funds to response alternatives
  3. Reduce police department size and scope
  4. Invest in community-based resources ⠀

Defunding the police means divesting from policing and investing in communities. With these actions, we can move closer to creating real public safety. #DefundThePoliceSTL

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1. Remove police from the following situations and places
  • Accident response and traffic enforcement
  • Homeless outreach
  • Domestic and intimate partner violence response
  • Mental health crises
  • Drug use and overdose response
  • Schools


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2. Redirect funds to alternatives outside of police departments.
  • Traffic accident investigators, unarmed traffic monitors
  • Mental health professionals and peer support
  • Outreach workers, housing providers
  • Trained domestic violence counselors, de-escalators, and crisis intervention teams
  • Domestic and intimate partner violence response
  • Substance use counselors, street nurses, injection sites, peer recovery outreach
  • Peer “walking counselors”


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3. Reduce police department size and scope.
  • Terminate specific units or patrols that enforce “quality of life” offenses, target protesters, or are tasked with surveilling communities.
  • Enact budget and hiring freezes. End surveillance. Reject privatization.
  • Disarm, decommission, and dismiss officers who harm community members.
  • End the militarization of police, as well as external funding streams like civil asset forfeiture and corporate subsidies.


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4. Respond to community harm with community-based resources
  • Community harm is real and at crisis levels in far too many communities. We must respond urgently and with resources to save lives and address root causes.
  • Prevent and respond to gun violence with community violence interrupters like Cure Violence and Sankofa Unity Center.
  • Address the conditions of crime by investing in affordable housing, education, medical and mental health care, public spaces, and violence prevention programs.


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Policing is Not The Answer! We can invest in another future.

Instead of doubling down and throwing hundreds of millions of dollars at the failed arrest and incarcerate model of policing each year, we need to rethink the role of police and invest in programs and policies that address the root causes of harm. #DefundThePoliceSTL

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Additional Resources

Click “Download Now” under each of the shareables below to get the file.

Death By The State

Police Killings And Jail Deaths In St. Louis.

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Lawsuit Complaint – Anthony Tillman

Plaintiff Anthony Tillman hereby moves the Court, pursuant to Rule 65 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction.

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Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)

ANTHONY TILLMAN, Plaintiff, v. CITY OF ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, ADRIAN BARNES, in his official capacity, and
COMMISSIONER DALE GLASS, in his official capacity, Defendants.

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Booklet 1- A Guide to Knowing Your Rights with the Police and Getting out of Jail

I am in court, what can I do?

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Booklet 2- A Guide to Representing Yourself in Municipal Courts

I was stopped by police, what should I do?

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