While there has been plenty of hand-wringing by elected officials about efforts to defund and reform the police, voters have voiced their desire for change, as ballot measures to increase police oversight passed by large margins in cities across the nation.
CBS News reports that cities like Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Portland all voted by large margins to either create new police oversight boards, or expand the powers of existing ones. In Philadelphia, where protests have ensued over the police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr., 78 percent of voters chose to replace the Police Advisory Commission with the Citizens Police Oversight Commission. The ballot measure will grant a larger budget and more power to the commission, which will be created by Philadelphia’s City Council.
Philadelphia was not the only city to replace its pre-existing oversight board either, as a similar measure passed in San Diego. In Columbus, Ohio, 74 percent of voters voted for a measure that would create an entirely new police oversight board, and it’s a similar story in Pittsburgh, with 78 percent of voters approving a measure that would strengthen the power of the Citizen Police Review Board.
It’s almost like a large portion of the population doesn’t think the police should be able to brutalize, violate, and lie to the public with impunity. What a radical, leftist concept that has no chance at all of resonating with a large swath of voters.
While these gains are great, Jennifer Cobbina, Michigan State University criminal justice professor, told CBS that time will tell how effective these changes will be.
“It really becomes more symbolic if the board doesn’t have any real teeth. If they don’t really have any authority to actually ensure that the advice, or the recommendations, that they’re making will be implemented, it doesn’t really go anywhere,” said Cobbina
Efforts to reduce funding for the police were not as widespread, but in California, voters did approve a series of measures that would reduce funding for the police, though not nearly to the level asked by the “defund the police,” movement.
In Los Angeles, voters approved a measure that requires the county to utilize at least 10 percent of its budget on alternatives to incarceration, and in San Francisco, a measure passed that would remove the mandatory staffing mandate from the city’s charter.