WASHINGTON — During a summit on race and justice in America put on by The Atlantic, D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said curbing crime nationwide may involve less funding for police departments.
“More investment in social services and less investment in police and incarceration is probably the long-term solution,” Lanier said.
During a discussion at the Lincoln Theater, Lanier said the investment should go into programs that try to reach people before they make a decision that gets them arrested. The ultimate goal of the criminal justice system, Lanier said, should be putting the criminal justice system out of business.
Lanier said police officers are responsible for many enforcement measures which may be better handled by other departments and services.
“Policing has become the drive-thru, 24 hours, McDonald’s of services,” Lanier said.
The enforcement of regulations for businesses and some minor crimes, such as the illegal sales of cigarettes, Lanier said, doesn’t necessarily need to involve an officer with a badge and a gun.
Lanier said she supports officer training, which prepares them for handling situations involving someone suffering from mental illness, but that others are often better equipped to help in those situations.
“I would love it if people in this country knew that, if they had a loved one who was in mental health crisis, that they could dial another number, other than 911, and get a mental health professional out that knows how to deal with that,” Lanier said.