F. Wayne Morris
Instructor, Department of Criminology
Wilfrid Laurier University
The demands to defund the Waterloo Regional Police Service by the African, Caribbean and Black Network may seem extreme at first glance. However it doesn’t alter the fact that changes are required and they are not going to be easy.
The criminal justice system was not designed to address social problems, yet it continues to assume responsibility for issues that others refuse to address. When psychiatric facilities are closed or social workers laid off, it is left to the police and detention centres to deal with people who are suffering from mental illness.
When people of colour are denied job opportunities, when Indigenous people are left without basic housing and addicts steal to stop their pain, we don’t address the root causes. Instead we leave it to an undertrained and ill-equipped criminal justice system and complain about the results.
The problems are well known but the solutions are complex. It will require a complete rethinking of our social systems. Our government agencies need to be redesigned and our civil servants at all levels better trained. Many commissions have filed reports and many well-intentioned proposals made. Ultimately, it will require real leadership to initiate effective change.