The call to “defund the police” during the national racial injustice protests has sparked heated debate for and against, not to mention confusion about what the term actually means.

Early on the morning of June 10, a group of protesters spray-painted “Defund Police” on the street in front of the Atlanta Police Department’s headquarters in Downtown.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said during her weekly conference call with the Atlanta City Council on June 10 that “defunding the police” doesn’t mean to get rid of cops and police departments. Rather, it’s about reallocating funding to social services and community enhancement initiatives led by trained professionals instead of officers.

“We are already reallocating around 50% of our corrections budgets into those specific areas,” Bottoms said. “We’ve been doing this work over the last couple of years and have been thoughtful on how we spend this money.”

Bottoms said putting public safety costs into community initiatives and closing the city jail were part of that “proactively thoughtful” plan. She said the bulk of APD’s budget goes toward salaries, pensions, workers compensation and capital costs.

In related news, Bottoms said that the advisory committee she established on the APD’s use-of-force was having its first meeting on June 10 and a final report should be ready in 45 days. Four APD officers were fired and some face criminal charges for allegations they used excessive force while arresting two college students on May 30.

The mayor also, once again, urged those who had participated in the protests to get tested for COVID-19.

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.