Bellingham residents spoke out Sunday, June 28, at the “Stonewall was a Riot: March to Defund the Police” event, calling for partial defunding of police departments in order to pay for other community resources in the wake of police violence against Black and Indigenous people and people of color.

David Makin.

David Makin, research professor and associate professor of criminal justice and criminology at Washington State University, said improving law enforcement is about starting conversations.

“[I’m seeing this in] areas that are having honest conversations with their community,” Makin said. “Notice the emphasis. Their community. They’re having those conversations around, ‘What should police be tasked with in our community?’”

“It’s about being more purposeful in who is better to handle a specific type of incident or interaction,” Makin said. “What we’ve done over the past 50-plus years is made the police everything to everyone, and that’s unfair. They’re not trained for that, and they can’t be. So if there’s an expert who’s better at handling a particular type of incident, then let’s have that.”

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The Western Front