Defunding Police Agencies May Create New EMS Funding
By Allison G. S. Knox
Columnist, EDM Digest
In the wake of Black Lives Matter protests and after the tragic death of Mr. George Floyd, communities have pondered whether or not to defund law enforcement as a means of reforming it. Communities will likely discuss whether or not this concept will work for their respective law enforcement agencies. The overarching argument contends that by defunding law enforcement agencies, law enforcement will change in a positive fashion, moving away from police brutality and discriminatory treatment.
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Defunding the police will shape the future of American law enforcement agencies and how suspects are treated. In addition, the discussion may be an important opportunity for ambulance agencies and how their funding is handled in the future.
Budgets for EMS Services Are Traditionally Tight
In recent years, emergency medical services have received little funding from their municipalities. As budgets tighten, emergency medical services often receive serious budget cuts that impact their equipment, training, recruitment and retention.
Also, first responder jobs could be affected by furloughs. For example, the International Association of Fire Chiefs recently projected that amid COVID-19, up to 30,000 jobs may be impacted as municipalities furlough their fire and emergency medical services employees.
Approaching Decision Makers
But if law enforcement agencies lose their funding right now, some of that funding could be redirected to emergency medical services to increase their budgets in the coming months.
Ultimately, the redistribution of funds will depend on EMS advocates and policymakers. If local governments defund their police departments, it will be very important for EMS leaders to approach these decision makers about redirecting funds towards other areas of public safety. Support from law enforcement agencies toward moving funds to emergency medical services will be particularly helpful in redirecting the money allocated to public safety.