defund the police

State troopers and police officers blocking the intersection of High and State streets. Police vehicles took over the center turning lane for nearly two blocks of High Street between Broad and Town Streets on Sunday, June 21, 2020.
Nick Evans / WOSU

Last summer, as protesters demanding racial justice flooded Columbus streets, a meme began passing around social media, depicting the city budget as a bar graph with police spending dwarfing every other expenditure. 

Columbus Police officers maintain crowds around the Ohio Statehouse on May 30, 2020.
Adora Namigadde / WOSU

Columbus Division of Police may be facing a $20 million budget reduction next year.

In a survey of Americans' attitudes toward law enforcement, two-thirds of respondents said that individual officers should be held legally accountable for using excessive force, but few of those polled said they would support cutting police budgets.

Protesters in downtown Columbus on June 4, 2020.
Nick Evans / WOSU

At protest after protest in Columbus, demonstrators have waved signs with calls to action like "abolish the police," "disband the police" or "defund the police."

There's a lot of money to account for: Columbus spends more than a third of its nearly $1 billion budget on police.

A protester holds up a sign saying "Defund the police" on June 6, 2020, in New York.
Ragan Clark / Associated Press

The recent protests over the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black people killed by police are ramping into a policy debate over the future of law enforcement. While some leaders push for reforms, other advocates have been urging to defund or abolish police departments entirely.

After almost three weeks of demonstrations following the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody, America seems to be at a threshold moment.

Polling shows attitudes shifting more in favor of protesters and embracing the potential for change when it comes to how policing is done in this country.

Police departments in at least half a dozen states have already moved to make reforms, but when it comes to sweeping national change, it's not clear how far Washington will go.

Activists protesting police brutality are calling on cities and states to defund their police. Funding for local law enforcement now increasingly comes from the federal government.

Federal departments ranging from the Department of Justice to the Department of Agriculture have grant programs aimed at hiring more police, equipping them and constructing new police facilities.

Some experts say that federal involvement undermines community accountability and focuses more on enforcement than minimizing harm.

As protests against police brutality have unfolded across the country, calls to defund or abolish police departments are picking up traction among activists and even sparked a pledge by the Minneapolis City Council to "dismantle" the police force there. But Joe Biden's campaign said on Monday that the Democratic Party's presumptive presidential nominee does not support that approach.

Updated at 12:09 a.m. ET Monday

Nine members of the Minneapolis City Council pledged their support for "dismantling" the city's police department, representing a veto-proof majority of the 13 council members.

The council members announced their position Sunday from the stage at a rally organized by black activists in response to the May 25 killing of George Floyd while in police custody.