To the Editor:

It is remarkable, yet unsurprising to see the faux outrage at the mention of “defunding the police” even as education, healthcare, Social Security, welfare, Planned Parenthood, public transit and countless other programs have been defunded to the point of hurting all of us and crippling the most vulnerable.

While you will hear extreme suggestions of dismantling entire police forces (from the usual suspects), the reality is that no one reasonably desires that – the goal is to simply demilitarize the police and invest more in community relations and partnerships.

A local example is the purchase of the BearCat armored vehicle by our Sheriff’s Department in 2017; a move heartily endorsed by this newspaper and deemed a “life-safety tool that’s needed.” The quarter-million-dollar purchase was reported to be funded from the current budget, as well as “odds and ends,” “funds from inmates buying snacks” (how much do those Snickers cost?!) and officers nursing along “high-mileage” cars. And now this week we hear that the Sheriff needs funding to replace the Dodge Chargers favored by officers that “do not stand up to the wear and tear of repeated use and high mileage demands that previous vehicles have.” So, while not directly, the taxpayer is footing the bill for the militarization of the police – and that’s exactly what it is.

As a parent, let me suggest that if your child has a favorite pair of pants that wear out much faster than an equivalent brand and you have a tight budget because you bought a Ferrari, buy the pants that last longer – or sell the Ferrari.

To be clear, I have no issue funding law enforcement needs and paying officers what they deserve. However, my first priority is to see education and public health get the free pass/rubber stamp on all of their requests and needs in the same manner that law enforcement around the country seem to receive.

As a nation we seem to have an endless supply of riot gear, tear gas, MRAP and armored vehicles, while 3 million students in this country attend schools with cops but no school nurse, and every teacher that I know spends significant amounts of their own money on classroom supplies while being painfully underpaid. Our schools have become necessary experts at fundraising to deal with the constant shortcomings – maybe law enforcement can consult with them on hosting a bake sale or car wash the next time they come up a little short.

Apparently, it’s only OK to say “defund” if the next words are “public schools,” “Medicare,” “food stamps,” “Social Security,” “daycare,” “libraries” or “Planned Parenthood.” Fine. Let’s say “tax cut” – they’ll eat it up.

Andy Barber,

Cullowhee