City Leaders MUST Rethink “Defund Police!”

The national media’s message is that the government can solve all problems.  Without debate or discussion, many people assume the government can “fix” social issues, including family and neighborhood safety. If a democracy is to survive, citizens must be involved to keep the government from assuming too much power.

Police departments are militaristic organizations with a Chief, Captains, Lieutenants, and officers. The national average is less than two officers for every 1000 citizens. Many people see police departments as big and powerful, and citizens are weak and helpless. The opposite is true!  Government is expensive and can breed corruption. We the people are powerful if we unite and work together.

One California community had a crime wave and no local police department. The unincorporated community had only two sheriff’s deputies to protect 17,000 residents.  Ten citizens were appointed by the county representative to develop a program to help stop crime. The committee plan was to hire two sergeant detectives to work with residents to solve and arrest burglars and other criminals. Committee members educated neighbors about their role in stopping crime. Neighborhood meetings helped neighbors get acquainted and work together to keep neighbors safe.

Community members learned that the biggest crime problems were home-grown teenagers. With this revelation, community members spoke at the middle school and high school about the new “Neighborhood Responsibility Program” to stop crime. Citizens got actively involved which sent a united message that neighbors were no longer passive, socially isolated, or locked behind doors.

Crime decreased 48% within two and a half years, without a local police department.

The moral of this story is true today that police alone can NOT stop crime, drug dealers, and violence. No matter how big the problem, citizens must report and stand up to all criminal activities or the problem will continue to grow. Cities need police and they need information to arrest criminals.  City leaders can hire and train citizens to be “Neighborhood Safety Experts” who look like and speak the language of their community.

In another city, drug dealers had taken over the neighborhood park. Neighbors walked their dogs, watered the grass, and took pictures without being noticed. They wrote down descriptions, license numbers, time of day and turned over the information to the safety coordinators. The neighborhood was cleaned up within three months.

Neighborhood Safety Experts need to be independent of law enforcement and other agencies.  In addition to bringing citizens together, they can report “bad” behavior as they create a healthy balance between citizens and police. Safety experts help citizens build trust and community bonds as they encourage projects such as social events, youth activities, clean up, plant a garden, or plan a barbeque. Everyone, including police, will feel supported as citizens take an active role to keep families safe. When citizens assume an active role and fear is reduced, they will not need guns for protection and the police will not need military equipment or SWAT teams to control behavior.

Every city needs neighbors involved to create a healthy balance between citizens and police to help stop crime, abuse, drugs, juvenile delinquency, gangs, sex trafficking and violence. Reducing fear, hopelessness, and social isolation restores calm and hope.

Police react to crime, involved citizens prevent crime.

Violence is costly and destructive! Creating peace takes time and effort but produces lasting results. When citizens work together, they become peacemakers making a difference! It is up to all of us to speak up and get involved!!

Read: How one community reduced crime in the book, “Alternative to Fear: Guidelines for Safer Neighborhoods.” Check out the illustrations on pages 10 and 11. It is free online at


Stephanie L. Mann
Stephanie L. Mann
Stephanie Mann co-authored, Alternative to Fear: Guidelines to Safer Neighborhoods,” which helped launch the national “Neighborhood Watch” Program. Within 2 1/2 years, involved residents in her community (17,500 residents) decreased crime 48%, WITHOUT a local police department. Mann worked as a community leader, neighborhood organizer, county coordinator, state consultant and authored, “Safe Homes, Safe Neighborhoods: Stopping Crime Where You Live” (Nolo Press 1993) In 2010, while working in Richmond CA, with “Mother’s Against Senseless Killings,” Mann saw people too scared to be involved or report crimes. She wrote, “The Adopt-A-Block Guidebook,” with an easy-to-follow guide for existing groups and “My first steps to a safe neighborhood” for citizens. These booklets give individuals and groups the tools to reach out and bring people together to help each other. Stephanie started a homeless men’s support group while working with “The Mary Ann Wright Foundation” in Oakland CA. She recognized the need to support children at an early age and wrote, “Street Safe Kids: 10 Step Guide for Teens and Adults” (which has been used in after-school programs) to help youth grow strong from within to develop self-esteem and stay centered. Book available on The Safe Kids Now National website states, “Every child needs a healthy family and neighborhood to stay safe.” In partnership with the CARR Foundation, a binder, “Safe Neighborhoods: Access to a Healthy Community,” was created for city leaders to make neighborhoods safer for families and neighborhoods. Stephanie’s books strengthen families and can decrease the social isolation that fuels bullies, domestic violence, abuse, drugs, gangs, and other destructive behaviors.”

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  1. Great article Stephanie, and so true. In all the years I worked on the streets of CA, success in decrease of crime was brought about by good policing, strong and supportive leadership, and interaction with the community being served. Often, I would take time to get out of my unit when I would pass by gang members and groups of our youth who lacked in parental ship at home, take time to let them know me as an officer in uniform. However, as things have evolved, it’s those who promote the racist theory, and radical ideas that are the problem. I am so sick of hearing about CRT, Racism, Defunding Police while people are brutally attacked and business are ransacked. It’s time to get back to Community Policing and incorporate the good men and women serving our community, while weeding out those that have no business wearing the badge.

  2. Great article Stephanie. If more citizens were involved in their community and partnered with their local police department crime would certainly decrease. When I was a police officer back in the 70’s, the City of Syracuse had a community policing program that allowed us to get out of the patrol car, walk the neighborhood and meet the residents. The idea was to let the residents know that we were there to listen to their concerns and build trust. The police are there to protect and serve yet we can only be effective if the community is willing to form a partnership in which we listen to and trust each other.

  3. Community partnership has been and always will be the key to effective policing. People get the police they deserve when all the stakeholders take genuine ownership.

    Great insight Stephanie. From a retired street warrior, “The Gumshoe”.